Metro Detroit weather: Arctic air grips southeast Michigan

Wind chill warnings issued


DETROIT – The worst of this bitter cold Arctic air mass is now firmly entrenched across the Great Lakes region, with many repercussions.  

Three times in the past two days, older women with some form of dementia have wandered away from their homes and frozen to death in the elements. If you have family members or neighbors in the same situation, this is a time to be particularly cognizant of their whereabouts. And this applies to our children, too. Curious kids that open a door and go outside but can’t get back in can quickly succumb to the cold, so make sure that doors are locked and bolted so they can’t get out.

This is also a time to make sure that our pets…even those that normally spend time outdoors even in the winter…are brought inside. We’re also seeing the cold manifest itself in another way -- north winds have stacked up some ice in the St. Clair River, and the resulting ice jam has caused flooding in East China Township, which is between St. Clair and Marine City. As such, the National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for this area until Sunday afternoon.

Today was also our tenth day with a high temperature below 20 degrees (-7 degrees Celsius) and, with temperatures staying below 20 degrees both Friday and Saturday, the streak will reach 12 days, which will easily break the record of eleven days below 20 degrees, set in 1979 and 1936.

Skies overnight will become mostly clear, with actual low temperatures in the heart of the metropolitan area around -3 (-19 degrees Celsius), but much colder in rural locations. However, a northwest wind at 8-12 mph will drop wind chills to an average of -20 degrees (-29 degrees Celsius) by dawn, especially over the northern half of our area. As a result, I think a lot of schools will close on Friday; we just can’t have kids standing on bus stops or walking to school in bitter cold like this.  

VIEW: School closures

The National Weather Service has just issued a Wind Chill WARNING tonight for areas north of 8 Mile – wind chills there can cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as ten minutes. A Wind Chill ADVISORY has been issued south of 8 Mile, as wind chills there can cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as thirty minutes. 

Mostly sunny on Friday, but very cold with highs only around 7 degrees (-14 degrees Celsius), but a northwest wind at 10-15 mph keeping wind chills around -10 degrees (-23 degrees Celsius) during the daytime hours after we rise from our early morning low temperature.

Mostly clear Friday night, with lows around -4 degrees (-20 degrees Celsius) in the heart of the area, and much colder in rural locations…possible down to -10 degrees (-23 degrees Celsius) in the coldest spots. Wind chills by dawn Saturday should be between -10 and -20 degrees (-23 and -7 degrees Celsius).

Mostly sunny on Saturday, with highs near 10 degrees (-12 degrees Celsius). Hopefully, the wind will lighten up, thus diminishing the wind chill impact.

Increasing clouds Saturday night, with lows around zero (-17 degrees Celsius).

The system I wrote about yesterday that is approaching Sunday afternoon into early Monday still does not look impressive. It appears that the upper level disturbance that will cause this system will actually be TWO disturbances crossing the Pacific northwest coast Friday night, with one chunk heading across southern Canada, and another chunk tracking across the south. Big storms result when these disturbances phase into one, but that’s not going to happen here. So, expect mostly cloudy skies on Sunday, with a chance of light snow during the afternoon. Highs warming into the upper 20s (-2 degrees Celsius)!

Snow accumulates perhaps a couple of inches Sunday night, with lows in the mid 20s (-5 degrees Celsius)

Snow showers Monday could even mix with a little rain, south. Highs should reach the low to mid 30s (1 degree Celsius)!

Tuesday and Wednesday look dry, with partly to mostly sunny skies. Highs should cool into the upper 20s (-2 degrees Celsius), but we can handle that.

Thursday is looking interesting. This afternoon’s long range computer models don’t agree, but I’m seeing trends that suggest a chance of rain showers. Stay tuned.

Here are some maps showing our weather pattern through Sunday morning (which is as far as our high-resolution RPM model goes), to help you plan if you are traveling around the region:

Some quick weather trivia:

By the way, you regular readers of my daily article know that I always include Celsius temperatures since so many of our Canadian friends across the river read it, and they use the metric system.  So here’s a trivia question:  did you know that there’s one temperature in which both the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures are exactly the same?  No cheating…don’t look it up!  Give up?  Okay, there’s the answer:  -40 degrees is the temperature that is exactly the same both in Fahrenheit and Celsius!

About the Author: