3-7 inches of snow expected Monday in Metro Detroit

Fernando Parraz clears snow from a sidewalk in Detroit on Sunday.  On Monday, Five to seven inches of snow are expected in Oakland and Macomb counties, while three to five inches are expected in Wayne and Washtenaw.

Metro Detroiters awoke to snowfall on Sunday and more of it is on the way Monday. When the snow departs, it will be followed by three of the coldest days of the new year.

Overnight about 3.8 inches of snow were recorded at Metro Airport, 2.4 inches in south Oakland County, and 2.8 in Ann Arbor, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Sara Pampreen.

The high temperature on Sunday was 17, and though there could be additional snow showers, there should be no more accumulation. The low, going into Monday, will fall to about 8.

On Monday, the high will come in just above the freezing point at 33 with wind chill at minus 2.

But snowfall is expected all day, and the National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory to midnight.

Four to 7 inches of snow are expected in Oakland and Macomb counties, while 3 to 5 inches are expected in Wayne and Washtenaw. 

"Plan on hazardous road conditions and slow travel," the advisory urges motorists.

The snow is due to a strong low-pressure system moving through, Pampreen said.

"It's winter. This happens," she said.

That was the mood of many Michiganians Sunday afternoon in Campus Martius during Winter Blast as they enjoyed the sunny rays before the sky was expected to turn gray again.

"It's Michigan," Thomas Watson, 35, of Detroit said with a shrug as he stayed warm by a firepit in Cadillac Square Park. "We've had it where it's up to the door. But it's supposed to get colder later this week, so it's going to stay around."

Watson, an automotive technician, said he will be at work tomorrow and the rest of the week, but his family stocked up on groceries this weekend so they don't have to venture into the cold any more than they must.

In Detroit, city officials said Sunday that 55 to 60 salt trucks would hit the roads in 12-hour shifts Monday morning shortly after 5 a.m. ahead of the expected 7 a.m. snowfall. The more than 600 miles of major thoroughfares would be a priority for the city, said Ron Brundidge, director of Detroit Public Works.

Should the city receive more than 6 inches, private contractors are on standby. Residents should remove vehicles from streets to allow for an open path wide enough for two-way traffic.

"Tomorrow is going to be a little challenging while the snow is coming down, especially with the projected short periods of getting half an inch to an inch per hour," Brundidge said. "We're going to try to get as much snow removed from the streets as possible. We'll make as much of an effort as we can to mitigate the potential for refreezing."

The Michigan Transportation Department contracts snow removal of expressways and Michigan highways to Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, spokeswoman Diane Cross said. MDOT, however, is increasing its freeway courtesy patrol to five vehicles who will drive up and down the freeways to assist drivers.

Craig Bryson, senior communication manager for Oakland County's road commission, said its team is on-call 24/7. Drivers only just got off the roads Sunday afternoon, but the commission will have 106 salt trucks, 18 pickups to help in subdivisions and on boulevard turnarounds and 19 road graders if conditions get as bad as is predicted.

Each truck has a route that takes about two hours to clear on the 2,700 miles of country roads and 230 miles of state highways. Drivers work on 16-hour shifts, the state maximum.

"We would certainly encourage people to give themselves extra time," Bryson said. "Morning rush hour could be slow. That remains to be determined by mother nature. Evening rush hour certainly will be. Many of our accidents are because people are going too fast for the conditions. We implore people to slow down and don't crowd the plow."

David Knupp, 48, of Port Huron said the road conditions this week have been on his mind all day.

"I don't like it," said Knupp, who works for the United Automotive Workers and leaves at 3:30 a.m. to drive to Center Line. "I'm thinking about calling off. Thankfully, I've got some time to use."

His 12-year-old niece Madison Hayward and 10-year-old son Owen also had the snow on their minds: "I hope school is canceled," Hayward said.

Carrie Mack's children were hoping for a snow day, too, even if the 46-year-old Livonia healthcare wouldn't be so lucky.

"I think it's good," she said. "They were out playing in the snow, making snowmen the other week. They want to be outside."

Likewise, Joe Barbaro, 44, of Lincoln Park was eager for the snow as he planned to leave for a skiing trip in the coming week.

"Bring it on," Barbaro said. "Hopefully I can get my car started tomorrow. If I get stuck, then I'll just have to call into work."

When the low-pressure system departs, arctic air from Canada will take its place and could usher in record-low temperatures. Monday night will see a low of 12, and Tuesday's high is 16. Then temperatures really start falling then, down to minus 8 overnight, putting Tuesday and Wednesday near their record lows of minus 7 set in 1985 and minus 4 set in 1951, respectively.

Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be the coldest days of the year so far, as a wind chill will make a high it feel like it's minus 35 degrees both mornings with highs of minus 3 and 3, respectively. Thursday's record low is minus 7 set back in 1920.

"I think the only thing to say is, 'No thanks,'" said Victoria Mona, 26, of West Bloomfield. The real estate agent said she hopes to work from home on Monday, but she is dreading the subzero temperatures later in the week. "That's going to be worse."

Frostbite will be an issue and could set in after 20 to 30 minutes of exposure to the arctic air, Pampreen said.

Cross said drivers need to do their part to prepare for the conditions such as having a full tank of gas, checking the air in their tires, and putting blankets in their vehicles.

"If you do break down, do stay in the car and stay buckled up where you're protected," she said. "Drivers should never ever get out of their vehicle unless the car is on fire."

Friday is expected to be dry, with a high of 17, and fall to an overnight low of 8. 

Saturday is expected to be sunny, warming up to a high of 32. The snow could return with rain on Sunday, though temperatures are expected to rise to 42.