Big chill

MARQUETTE – Tuesday, it could be even colder.

That’s probably not what Upper Peninsula residents shivering through a deep freeze that closed all Marquette and Alger county schools today wanted to hear. But that’s the report this morning from the National Weather Service office in Negaunee Township.

“We have another day of brutally cold temperatures coming,” NWS meteorologist Kris Fleegel said. “The lows this morning were from 5 below to 20 below, but it will be a little bit colder tomorrow, especially near the Lake Superior shoreline.”

The cause of the big chill?

“There’s a pretty decent low pressure system to the east and we have cold air coming in from Canada,” Fleegel said. “Having Lake Superior near us in the Marquette area has actually kept it a bit warmer than in other places. In the arrowhead of Minnesota, it is 30 (below) to 35 below zero this morning. And in the western U.P., it’s minus 26 in Ironwood with a wind chill of 54 below this morning.”

The wind chill factor this morning at K.I. Sawyer made the minus 9 temperature feel like 32 below zero, Fleegel said.

“People need to remember that in those readings, when it’s 30 (below) to 35 below, it only takes 15 to 30 minutes to get frostbite,” Fleegel said. “People should have emergency kits in their vehicles, including blankets. And they should cover any exposed skin.”

A wind chill warning remains in effect until 11 a.m. Tuesday, she said.

“We will (have) another bitterly cold day tomorrow, with wind chills at 35 (below) to 40 below near the lake and even colder when you get inland,” she said. “But after that, we’ll be warming up slowly. By Friday through the weekend, the temperature could be near 32 degrees. That will feel like a heat wave.”

The wind also was creating some hazardous whiteout conditions in some areas, according to Sgt. Kevin Dowling of the Michigan State Police at the post in Negaunee Township.

“This morning, there are reports of whiteouts in the snowband areas between Marquette and Munising on M-28 along the Superior shoreline,” Dowling said. “We also have reports from whiteouts on U.S. 2 from St. Ignace west along the Lake Michigan shore.

“Also in Newberry, some whiteouts are reported. It’s the typical lake-effect snow areas. We are urging drivers to be cautious, especially in these areas.”

Dowling said throughout the MSP’s Eighth District – which is the entire U.P. – special measures are being enacted today and Tuesday.

“All available resources will be out on patrol in the event motorists are in need of assistance,” Dowling said. “Non-essential follow-ups and report writing will be put on hold until after this time. We are extending hours in posts not normally open 24 hours due to this extreme weather.”

Homeland Security personnel will be patrolling U.S. 2 and M-28, as well.

“We will have somebody out there responsible for certain sections of these roadways should the need arise for motorist assistance,” he said.

Other parts of Michigan are experiencing weather issues as well.

The Associated Press reported this morning that Gov. Rick Snyder has partially activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center due to severe winter weather, including heavy snow and predictions of dangerously low temperatures.

The governor’s office said the partial activation Sunday night means that key emergency management personnel from essential state agencies will report to the center, bolstering coordination with local officials, the AP reported.

Many state offices in the Lansing area are closed today. According to the website, “due to the emergency cold and snow conditions impacting Michigan, and due to the snow emergency declared by Mayor (Virg) Bernero in the city of Lansing prohibiting non-essential travel on Lansing roads, state of Michigan facilities in the Lansing area (including the Secondary Complex) will only be open for critical functions on Monday.”

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.