ESCANABA - Frigid temperatures forced schools in Delta, Schoolcraft, and Menominee counties to close Monday as the region remains under a wind chill warning set to expire at 11 a.m. EST Tuesday.
According to the warning, issued by the National Weather Service in Marquette, wind chills across the Upper Peninsula could fall to as low as 25 to 45 below zero through Tuesday as one of the coldest air masses impacting the Upper Great Lakes in many years lingers over the region.
The lowest wind chills were expected this morning and tonight through early Tuesday.
Subzero temperatures have been an issue for a large portion of the Midwest and beyond, with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama, according to reports from The Associated Press.
Up to 15 inches of snow was expected in portions of downstate Michigan, followed by temperatures diving as low as minus 15.
Locally, all schools were closed due to weather conditions, but the coldest temperatures are yet to come, according to meteorologist Kari Fleegel from the NWS in Marquette.
Fleegel said some of the coldest conditions for the Escanaba and Manistique areas happened this morning; Escanaba dipped to 6 below with a wind chill of 26 below zero. Manistique was not much warmer, reaching 2 below with a wind chill of 23 below zero.
Bitter cold conditions are even worse in the far western U.P. with the NWS receiving a wind chill report of 54 below zero near Bessemer.
"Temperatures will get a little warmer today but not much," said Fleegel, noting temperatures could range between 3 above to 5 below zero.
But there's an even colder night in store tonight with a low around 12 below in Manistique and 16 below in Escanaba.
"Combined with those westerly winds, the temperatures could be 30 to 40 below by daybreak tomorrow morning," she said.
Despite the coldspell, there is some relief in sight.
"We do have slowly increasing temperatures throughout the week," said Fleegel, noting Escanaba could see temperatures warm up to between 30 and 35 degrees beginning Friday and lasting through the weekend.
Although next week typically is the coldest time of year, Fleegel does not anticipate temperatures falling to the dangerous levels they are currently at.
"These are temperatures we haven't seen in 15 years or so, so I think we'll be hard pressed to get down again to these levels this winter," she said.
Though the NWS suggests people avoid exposure outdoors by staying inside, they do offer several safety measures for people out in the cold, reminding people to wear layers of clothing and cover up their heads and hands to avoid heat loss. When traveling, an emergency winter weather kit should be on hand in case a person gets stranded.
In addition to these suggestions, the Michigan State Police have issued several tips for winter cold safety, some of which include:
- watching for signs of frostbite (such as loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes, or face) and hypothermia (such as uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion).
- removing clothing if it gets damp or wet, which can make someone more prone to hypothermia.
- weather-proofing doors and windows to trap heat inside the home.
- checking heating units and testing carbon monoxide detectors.
- checking on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
- watching pets closely and keeping them indoors when possible.
- checking and restocking an emergency preparedness kit.
- minimizing travel. If travel is necessary, it is important to keep a full tank of gas and an emergency preparedness kit, which should include gloves, blankets, and hats, inside the vehicle.