Warm-up, then cool down in Metro Detroit

Holly Fournier and Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

March comes in like a lion and out ... like a lion?

A brief warm-up this week is expected to be wiped out by a frigid polar vortex this weekend blanketing much of the upper Midwest and Northeast, with lingering effects on the Metro Detroit region, according to AccuWeather.

Friday, temperatures are expected to drop to near 50 and will struggle to hit 40 this weekend and early next week, according to the National Weather Service.

Thursday evening, the weather service reported wind gusts as high as 56 mph in Ann Arbor, 53 mph in Waterford and 47 mph in Detroit. The winds were expected to drop to 8-10 mph Thursday night as the storm system leaves the region.

After that, expect cooler conditions. On Friday, "we'll have highs rights around 50," meteorologist Rachel Kulik said. More storms may be possible Saturday.

Then the dreaded polar vortex moves into southeast Michigan, which is expected to migrate over the Hudson Bay in Canada, giving bitter cold a “direct route” into northern areas of the eastern United States, AccuWeather officials said.

The upper Great Lakes region will bear the brunt of the frigid weather Saturday, with areas of northern Michigan, New England, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey seeing a drop in temperature by Sunday.

All areas are expected to experience temperatures 10 to 20 degrees or more below normal, AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said in a statement.

For comparison: Normal highs in Minneapolis tend to hover in the low to mid 50s, according to AccuWeather. This weekend, northern Minnesota could see temperatures no higher than the 20s. Same goes for northern Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England, where early April temperatures typically reach the upper 50s or even 60s.

As with most polar vortexes, frigid air will meet biting winds.

Gusts between 40 and 50 mph could be seen throughout the area, with wind speeds threatening to top 50 mph in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England.

AccuWeather warned travelers to be on the lookout for airline delays and sporadic power outages caused by the blustery winds. Crops also are in danger, as many buds that began to bloom in mild weather will now be at risk for frost damage.

And the bad news keeps coming for areas north of Metro Detroit: The air will be “plenty cold enough to trigger bands of lake-effect snow and snow showers” this weekend, trending as far east as coastal New England, officials said.

An Alberta Clipper storm also is expected this weekend in Metro Detroit and parts of northern Minnesota to Pennsylvania, upstate New York and New England.

This weekend’s round of polar vortex chills is expected to be chased by two more pushes next week, affecting areas farther south, according to AccuWeather. But luckily, they are not expected to be as extreme.

“The second and third pushes of cold air will pale in comparison to the weekend arctic outbreak,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok. “The two additional cold waves will not have nearly as much wind with them and the source region of the cold air will trend less extreme as the polar vortex begins to retreat northward.”

And then finally, a reprieve.

The arctic air is expected to be “turned off” later next week for a return to warmer weather paired with clouds and rain.


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Extended forecast

Thursday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 64. Chance of precipitation is 90 percent.

Thursday night: Showers likely, mainly before 10 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Friday: Chance of showers before 9 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Friday night: Chance of rain showers before 1 a.m., then a chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 31. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Saturday: Snow showers likely before 10 a.m., then rain and snow showers likely between 10 a.m and noon, then rain showers likely after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Winds could gust as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

Saturday night: Chance of snow showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 22. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 38.

Sunday night: Chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 29.

Monday: Chance of snow showers before 11 a.m., then a chance of rain showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42.

Monday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 20.

Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 39.

Tuesday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 27.

Wednesday: Chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48.