Snow, bitter cold in store for Mich. weekend

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
A vehicle drives slowly along a snowy Fairholme Road on Saturday morning in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Southeast Michigan is under a winter weather advisory as the region endures a weekend of snow followed by bitter cold.

An upper-level low pressure system moved into the area bringing snow, that started falling Friday night and continues through Saturday, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

At 8 a.m. the weather service said light snow would continue into early afternoon, according to a post on Twitter.

The  advisory predicts 3 to 6 inches south of M-59, with 1 to 3 inches expected along and north of M-59.

The region's areas closer to the Ohio border — such as Adrian and Monroe — could get 4 to 6 inches.

The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee and Monroe counties that is in effect until 4 p.m. Saturday. The advisory means difficult travel with snow-covered roads and limited visibility.

Saturday's high is expected to top out at 24 degrees and drop to a low of about 13.

A winter storm began sweeping across the Midwest on Friday, creating slick roads and runways, as it headed toward New England where up to 2 feet of snow are predicted.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings from the Dakotas, across the Great Lakes states and into New England. 

In Nebraska, authorities closed Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on Friday after a Southwest Airlines plane slid off an ice-slicked runway. No one was injured. The airport suspended all afternoon flights.

Temperatures in southeast Michigan are expected to get even colder over the second half of the weekend and stay that way through Tuesday. 

The high on Sunday may only get to 16 degrees with a low of about 3 degrees, according to the weather service. And as the temperature falls Sunday night, the wind chill could plummet to between zero and -15 degrees across the region. The wind chill could fall as low as -12 in Metro Detroit Sunday night through Monday morning. It will warm up to -9 degrees Monday night through Tuesday morning, according to the agency.

Michigan State Police officials are warning people to be extra cautious when venturing out in the extreme cold this weekend.

"Extremely cold temperatures can be hazardous and potentially life-threatening," Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, said in a statement. "We are asking that Michiganders monitor their local weather reports and follow the appropriate steps to stay safe during this cold spell."

He also offered the following tips:

  • If you must go outside, wear hats, mittens, gloves, scarf and a warm coat.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion.
  • Remove clothing if it gets damp or wet. Wet clothing can make you more prone to hypothermia.
  • Check heating units. Poorly operating or damaged heating units can release carbon monoxide gas. Test carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation and battery life.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
  • Watch pets closely and keep them indoors when possible. Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.
  • If travel is necessary, keep a full tank of gas and an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle. Put warm clothing, such as gloves, blankets and hats, and a cell phone charger in your kit.

The weekend's arctic-like temperatures are a significant departure from the norm. The average monthly high temperature for January in Detroit is 32 degrees and the average monthly low is 19, according to the weather service's records.

Detroit has only seen a fraction of the snow compared to average so far this month. As of Thursday, Detroit had seen a little more than a ½ of snow, the agency said. The average monthly snowfall in Detroit for January is 12.5 inches.

Extended forecast

Sunday: Partly sunny with a high near 16 degrees and a low of about 3 degrees.

Monday: Sunny with a high near 16 degrees and a low of about 10 degrees.

Tuesday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 34 degrees and a low of about 27 degrees. Snow is likely to fall after 1 p.m.

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 34 degrees and a low of about 21 degrees. There's a chance of rain and snow. 

Thursday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 27 degrees. There's also a chance of snow.

Source: National Weather Service

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

The Associated Press contributed