Frigid temps, wind start workweek in Metro Detroit

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Extremely cold temperatures swept across Metro Detroit on Sunday, forcing the cancellation of a winter festival in downtown Detroit and prompting the opening of warming centers.

Words like frigid, arctic, bone-chilling were dropped by weather forecasters and others. Some, though, still trekked outdoors, like Celeste Tremmel, who was training for a marathon outside in downtown Detroit. 

By Tuesday, the deep freeze may be a memory, with 34 degrees in the forecast.

A wind chill advisory remains in effect through noon Monday, when temperatures are expected to be at their coldest — minus 4 — at 8 a.m. with a minus 20 wind chill in Wayne County, the National Weather Service said. 

"It's going to feel really cold because of the wind," said weather service meteorologist Sara Pampreen. "On Monday, it will only get up to 13 degrees." 

From the auto show, whose final winter event launched this weekend amid snow and frigid weather, to outdoor activities, to simply walking to their cars or braving the temperatures at a women's march at Michigan State University, Metro Detroiters faced the first brutally cold temperatures of the season Sunday, where the afternoon high temperature was 18.

The cold was part of a major winter storm that blanketed most of the Midwest with snow over the weekend, some areas with up to 10 inches and more from lake-effect snow on Sunday. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or advisories for part or all of at least 15 states stretching from southeast Missouri to the northern tip of Maine.

In Metro Detroit, wind chills were expected between 15 to 25 below early Monday throughout southeast Michigan. The actual low was expected anywhere from zero to minus 10, the National Weather Service said.

The cold temperatures were likely to set no new records: The record low for Jan. 21 was minus 21 degrees set in 1985, according to Pampreen. Normal average temperature for Jan. 21 is 32. 

Temperatures will warm up quickly starting Tuesday, when the high is predicted at 34. Wednesday may see some rain with a high of 39. 


Attendance for the opening weekend at the North American International Auto Show was down compared to 2018. Saturday attendance of 83,916 added to a Sunday attendance of 101,310, bringing attendance to 185,226 people, auto show officials said. That’s down from last year’s 218,516 visitors during the opening weekend, said show organizers.

“Despite the snow storm and slick roads, the kick off to the 2019 NAIAS was a great success,” said Bill Golling, 2019 NAIAS chairman. 

But some people who ventured to the event through the arctic temperatures said they wouldn’t mind trading winter coats for T-shirts when the show moves to June next year.

The frigid forecast prompted some school districts not already closed for MLK Day in Metro Detroit to close Monday. Some districts planned events on school campuses to honor the slain civil rights leader. 

Events such as the Tour de Troit cancelled its the Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Ride  for Monday due to the cold but still planned a gathering. "We will gather inside the McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State at 10 a.m. to pay tribute to Dr. King and share hot chocolate. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Please join us," the organization said in an email.

Others didn't shy from the cold. “When you run a marathon, you run no matter the weather,” said Tremmel, who plans to run a marathon in South Carolina in March.

Running in snow is “like running in sand, so you go a lot slower and it’s a lot more work,” she said. “I’m really tired … but 40 degrees, wind and hail is worse.”

Ford Motor Co's winter festival at the Michigan Central Depot was cancelled Sunday due to the wind chill advisory, officials with automaker said.

"Our concern is always for the safety of our staff and visitors. We will reopen tomorrow evening at 5:30 pm.," a statement on the event's website said.

Christina Twelftree, a spokeswoman for Ford, said she expects the 10-day winter festival in front of the train depot to resume Monday and run through Jan. 27 as planned.

Warming centers opened to offer Detroit residents a break from the cold, city officials said.

“As temperatures drop, we want to make sure we are prepared to address any and all problems that we face as a city each winter,” said Arthur Jemison, chief of services and infrastructure for the city of Detroit. “Whether it’s providing shelter to those experiencing homelessness, addressing buildings without heat or even protecting our pets in the cold, we are prepared to ensure all Detroiters have a safe winter season.”

Warming center in Detroit include: 

•Southwest Solutions Housing Resource Center, 1600 Porter St., Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for families with children and unaccompanied youth ages 18 to 24.

•NSO Tumaini Center, 3430 3rd Ave., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and NOAH Project, 23 E. Adams, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday for single adults.

•Healthcare for Homeless Veterans at 4646 John R. Street on the second floor, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and Veterans Community Resource & Referral Center at 301 Piquette St., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

New this year, the city said, is a "rapid response team," composed of Detroit Health Department staff and community health workers. If apartment buildings lose heat, the team will work with building owners to restore heat.

"If this is not successful, the rapid response team will assist with temporary housing for those residents who may need it," a release from the city said.

Social service agencies and other city departments also could be tapped for help and resources, it said.

Detroit Animal Care and Control and the Michigan Humane Society are providing free straw to pet owners to insulate the dog’s shelter, city officials said. In addition, the Michigan Humane Society will provide other outreach for pet owners, including dog houses. Detroit Animal Care and Control urges pet owners to keep their pets inside during cold weather.

For information, call Detroit Animal Care and Control at (313) 224-6356 or the Michigan Humane Society at (313) 872-3400.

People braved for the cold and snow on Saturday outside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The National Weather Service says Sundaay the temperature hovered around 7 degrees, a day after several Saturday brought inches of snow and a cold front hit the region.

More:After snowfall, temps to drop in Metro Detroit

The weekend storm was caused by the clash of an Arctic high pressure system with a low pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley, said meteorologist Dan Hofmann, with the National Weather Service Baltimore-Washington, D.C.

“It happens that this one is going through a relatively high population area,” Hofmann said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.