Cold days to follow as Metro Detroit digs out from record snowfall
A predicted snowstorm actually performed as expected Tuesday, paralyzing much of the nation and forcing Michiganians to shrug and reach for their heavy coats.
Across Metro Detroit, minor inconvenience reigned as an overnight storm deposited 10 inches of snow. Drivers slowed their rolls. Trash was picked up a bit later than usual. Boxes of authentic Fat Tuesday pastry in Hamtramck needed a dusting of white fluff brushed off before the lids were opened to reveal the paczki with their dusting of sugar.
The power stayed on, and Michiganians — or Michiganders, perhaps a hardier term on a day with a temperature range in the city from 7 degrees below zero to a brisk 19 — persevered.
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“I love the snow," said Randy McPherson, 64, of Detroit. "I love the winter because I was born in December so it don’t bother me. I like the four seasons … it makes people stay in the house, all the foolishness not out here in the streets."
Other parts of the country were not so prepared or fortunate. In Texas, some 4.4 million people lost power as record low temperatures overpowered the grid. While the Galveston and Houston areas were hardest hit, the Detroit Pistons' Wednesday road game against the Dallas Mavericks was postponed a day ahead of time.
A widespread storm deposited snow and ice from Arkansas to Indiana and set frigidity records from Oklahoma City to Minnesota's Iron Range, where the National Weather Service said thermometers blanched at minus 38 degrees.
Auto plants in Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas and Hermosillo, Mexico were shut down, the last thing the industry needed when it's already dealing with a shortage of semiconductors.
In Ferndale, meanwhile, a new dad was probably more concerned with sleep than sleet.
“I’m definitely not excited about the snow, but it’s fine," said Jason Muccioli, 33. "My wife and I just had our first child about a week ago so we’re stuck inside anyways.”
Over a roughly 30-hour period, spanning early Monday morning to early Tuesday, Metro Detroit saw 10 inches of snow, said Alex Manion, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Monday's contribution alone in Detroit was 7.2 inches, drubbing the Feb. 15 record of 5 inches that had stood since 1898.
At one point Monday, Manion said, there had been active winter weather alerts stretching from Texas to the Central Plains to southern Michigan up to Maine.
"You don't normally see a weather map with warnings across one-third of the country," Manion said.
With Michigan blanketed but unbowed, the snow moved on later Tuesday toward the northeast U.S. before an eventual landing in Eastern Canada.
But the polar jet stream over the southern U.S. is "really stagnant," Manion said, and there will be more cold weather. That jet stream caused "anomalously cold air" to head south and park there.
Among the un-parked, Michigan State Police reported some minor crashes and fender benders but said most drivers took heed of warnings and stayed home.
The keys to remaining dent-free are to ease off the gas pedal and maintain the automotive version of social distancing.
“Take your time no matter how many wheels-drive you have,” state police spokesman Lt Michael Shaw urged. “Ice is ice.”
“Everything is blowing over and then freezing,” he said, noting that ferociously cold temperatures make road salt less effective.
At the construction end of the car business, rather than potential destruction, Ford Motor Co. shut down all day Tuesday at the Ohio Assembly truck and van plant in Avon Lake, Ohio, and the Lincoln and Ford Fusion plant in Mexico, according to spokeswoman Kelli Felker.
Production has been canceled until Monday at Kansas City Assembly in Missouri, home of the F-150 and Transit, to cut down on natural gas consumption. Three other plants ran Tuesday at reduced levels.
GM canceled at least one shift at its Cadillac XT5, XT6 and GMC Acadia plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, its Fort Wayne, Indiana, light-duty truck plant, the Bowling Green, Kentucky, plant where the Chevrolet Corvette is built, and its large SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, spokesman Dan Flores said.
The day shift at Stellantis NV's Toledo Assembly Plant, home to the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator pickup, was canceled due to local travel advisories, spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in an email. Production resumed for the second shift.
Metro Detroit had its share of closures as well — a few courts, a lot of schools — but nothing as substantial as an auto factory.
Power plants kept churning. DTE Energy, energy provider for 2.2 million homes and businesses in Southeast Michigan, reported only 253 outages Tuesday morning. Consumers Energy, which provides energy to 6.6 million outstate customers, reported only five outages.
As for what's coming next, figure on a high of 20 Wednesday, Manion said.
Snow is likely on Thursday, but the temperature should climb to 27, and then keep elevating to 37 by Tuesday.
In short, keep the heavy coats out for now — but as a hardy Michiganian, have something a little lighter close by.
Roadways: The Michigan Department of Transportation's MiDrive Map will keep you informed on road conditions
Reporter Kalea Hall contributed.