Metro Detroit weather: Lots and lots of cold fronts (plus, some trivia!)

By Paul Gross - Meteorologist

Last week’s summer temperatures feel like such a distant dream now, and the well-below average temps will continue into next week as a series of cold fronts plow across the Great Lakes region.

One of those fronts came through today, with a band of light showers with it.  As you can see on the current temperature map above, areas to the north and west, who got into the colder air mass behind that front earliest, are only in the 40s (7 to 9 degrees Celsius) this afternoon -- and the stiff breezes sure don’t help.

Skies should eventually become mostly clear tonight, although occasional patches of stratocumulus clouds from Lake Michigan may cross the area later at night.  

Temperatures will drop to near or below freezing in many areas, so frost or a hard freeze is a definite possibility -- especially away from our Urban Heat Island.

Accordingly, the National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Warning tonight for all of southeast Michigan.

As we noted last week, that’s bad news for those who want to keep their tender annuals around farther into the season, but great news for allergy sufferers as we kill off those pollen-producing plants.  And this is just one of many frost opportunities over the next week, so it may not be worth it to try and save your annuals -- unless it’s just bringing a pot into the garage each night and taking it out again the next day.

A lot of people are asking and worrying about their sprinkler systems tonight. We checked with R & J Lawn Sprinklers this afternoon, and they say that it needs to be at least 24 hours with sub-freezing air temperatures to even start worrying about the pipes in the ground freezing and bursting.  

Remember that those pipes are 8” below ground, and the soil above acts as an insulator in the early fall before it freezes.

The only thing of any concern is the vacuum breaker -- the part that comes above ground.  Even though that’ll probably be fine tonight, if you want to relieve some of the water pressure inside, turn off the water to your system, and run Zone 1 only. It won’t take long (perhaps a minute or so).

Wind should settle down to 5 to 10 mph from the southwest.


Mostly sunny and windy on Tuesday as the next cold front sets up to our west.  Highs should reach the low to mid 50s (11 to 12 degrees Celsius), with a gusty southwest wind at 15 to 25 mph.

A shower or two is possible Tuesday night as the cold front swings through.  Lows in the upper 30s (3 to 4 degrees Celsius).


Partly cloudy, windy and colder on Wednesday, with highs only in the upper 40s (9 degrees Celsius).

Mostly clear Wednesday night with frost likely for most of us. Lows near 30 degrees (-1 degree Celsius), with rural areas away from the Heat Island colder than that…meaning the likelihood for a hard freeze.

Thursday and rest of the week

Mostly sunny on Thursday, with highs in the low to mid 50s (11 to 12 degrees Celsius).

Mostly clear Thursday night, with lows in the upper 30s (4 degrees Celsius).

Mostly sunny to mostly cloudy on Friday, with highs in the mid 50s (13 degrees Celsius).

Some light showers are possible Friday night as the next cold front approaches.  Lows in the low 40s (5 to 6 degrees Celsius).

The weekend

This Saturday is the big Michigan – Michigan State game in East Lansing, and it’ll be a cold one.  Skies will be mostly cloudy (hopefully we’ll get some breaks of sun), and we cannot rule out a scattered sprinkle or very light shower.  

Highs here in Metro Detroit should be near 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) but, up in East Lansing, it’ll be cooler…highs only in the mid to upper 40s (8 to 9 degrees Celsius).  

Oh, and the wind…yes, there will be wind, which will make it feel even colder…blowing from the west-northwest at 15 to 20 mph.  Dress warm!

Becoming mostly clear Saturday night, with lows back down near freezing.

Partly cloudy on Sunday, with highs in the mid to upper 40s (8 to 9 degrees Celsius).

Interesting weather trivia

Here’s an interesting weather factoid that you can mention to a friend and impress with your vast meteorological acumen:  our daily snowfall record (officially at Metro Airport) for October 15th is…zero!

Why is that significant? Because today is the latest day in the fall season to never have had any snow.  

That’s right, since weather records began here in 1874, it has never snowed on October 15th. Not even a trace.  

Every remaining day of the fall and upcoming winter have had snow on at least one day in the past 144 years. And by the way, 144 equals 12 dozen, which is one gross, which makes it a Paul Gross record.  Or something like that.  

Now go show your friends that you are a cornucopia of weather knowledge.

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