Bitter cold ahead for days, possibly weeks

Steven Jamail of New York City, left, walks up Woodward Avenue while snow falls in Detroit on Dec. 24, 2017. Jamail got some last minute gifts for his partner who in Elf the Musical at the Fox Theatre.

The snow squalls that meant tough traveling on Christmas Day are gone, but they're replaced by arctic cold not typically seen in December and a warning from state police to be careful on the roads during a deep freeze.

The weather service forecast called for a slight chance of snow showers before 1 a.m., then mostly cloudy skies with temperatures dropping around 5 degrees. 

By 6 a.m. Tuesday it was 6 degrees with a real feel of -2. Tuesday's temperatures are expected to top out at 15 degrees, according to AccuWeather. 

"Although winds will decrease during the night, the degree of cold air will send wind chill readings well below zero," the weather service said.

Wind chill values could dip as low as -6 before dawn, according to the forecast.

Tuesday is expected to be frigid, with a high of about 12 and wind chills as low as -9, the weather service reported.

With the deep freeze so soon after the snowfall, Michigan State Police are warning drivers to be careful on the roads.

"As some head back to work ... please keep it slow, leave early and pack that emergency kit," the agency wrote on Twitter. "Roads are still snow covered in some spots. Especially the neighborhoods. And it’s going to be cold!"

Police and tow trucks clean up after a serious vehicle accident that closed westbound I-696, west of Dequindre in Madison Heights, Dec. 25 2017.

The arctic blast continues the rest of the week, bringing the coldest air so far this season. Lows near zero are predicted Tuesday and Wednesday, nearly 20 degrees below normal for late December.

"That's going to be the story of the week," said Sara Pampreen, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

The chill follows the low pressure system that pushed through the region.

The squalls were so thick at one point Monday that visibility at the weather station office in White Lake Township dropped to one-tenth of a mile in nine minutes, officials reported.

As the squalls swirled over area roads, authorities reported accidents. The Michigan Department of Transportation reported crashes on M-39, Interstates 94,96 and the Davison.

Westbound Interstate 696 was closed for more than two hours Monday afternoon from Dequindre to Interstate 75 after three crashes, MSP reported. The first was a single-vehicle crash that hit the median wall.

Sledders make their way through a snow squall at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills, December 25, 2017.   (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)

The driver of the second vehicle got out of it while parked on the right shoulder, and was hit in the third crash. The incident prompted Michigan State Police to offer driving advice via social media: "If you are involved in a crash, stay inside your car. It’s the safest place!"

Earlier, Canton Township issued a snow emergency that is slated to end at noon Tuesday.

Metro Detroit wasn't the only place dealing with holiday travel and snow that at times was impenetrable.

A blizzard swept into parts of New England and bitter cold enveloped much of the rest of the Midwest.

Even the usually rainy Pacific Northwest got the white stuff. The National Weather Service says it’s only the sixth time since 1884 that downtown Portland had measurable snow — only an inch or two — on a Dec. 25.

Sledders and cross-country skiers work the hills at a snow covered Heritage Park in Farmington Hills, December 25, 2017.   (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)

A blizzard warning was issued Monday for portions of Maine and New Hampshire, with forecasters saying snow of up to 10 inches and wind gusts up to 50 mph could make travel “dangerous to impossible.”

States from Montana and the Dakotas to Wisconsin expected wind chill temperatures in places at 40 below zero, the National Weather Service said. The upper half of Iowa and northern Illinois also braced for subzero temperatures.

Minnesota was experiencing its most frigid Christmas Day since 1996, with wind chills as cold as 35 degrees below zero, KSTP-TV reported. The National Weather Service warned that those whose skin was exposed in such conditions could get frostbite in as little as 15 minutes.



The Associated Press contributed to this report.