FLINT (WWJ/AP) – As an arctic chill gradually released its grip on Michigan, many students went to school Thursday for the first time this year, risking roads still slippery from icy conditions.
Temperatures in the Lower Peninsula pushed up to 21 at Beaver Island, Frankfort, Lambertville and Ypsilanti on Thursday. Detroit’s high has reached 18.
Classes at many schools had been scheduled to resume Monday, but snow and cold temperatures extended the holiday break.
Many districts in southeastern Michigan reopened Thursday, including the Detroit Public Schools; but some districts chose to close for a fifth day, including all public schools in Monroe County.
Flint, one of the hardest hit areas with 17 of inches of snow coming ahead of the deep freeze, saw temperatures warm from an overnight low of minus 15 to 19 above by 3 p.m. Its schools remain closed for the day.
Weather in Michigan was a factor in at least nine deaths – three in roadway crashes, one in a snowmobile accident and five involving snow clearance, authorities said.
The National Weather Service predicted some snow and freezing rain overnight before a big warm-up Friday, with highs in Flint and across southeastern and central Michigan reaching the mid- to upper 30s.
The Upper Peninsula’s Copper Harbor was Michigan’s hot spot Thursday at 31.
CMS Energy Corp.’s Consumers Energy unit said it set a new hourly record for natural gas delivery on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., sending 146,367 million cubic feet of natural gas to homes and businesses. That broke its previous record of 146,013 million cubic feet set from 8 to 9 a.m. on Feb. 3, 1996.
“More than 70 percent of the natural gas delivered to our customers came from our storage fields during this blast of arctic air,” Timothy Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president for energy supply operations, said in a statement Thursday.
A number of crashes were reported on Detroit-area expressways Thursday morning. Surface streets remained slick, with a coating of packed snow and ice in many places. Authorities urged drivers to use caution and keep speeds lower than usual.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Bowers said Metro Detroit could get a fresh coating of snow overnight, Thursday — up to an inch in some areas.
“It’s certainty not a big event,” Bowers said, “but unless you’ve got a little salt on your sidewalk on your sidewalk or on those roads, they are going to get to be a little slick.”
Bowers said temperatures will continue to rise, getting into the upper 20s by daybreak Friday, with some rain on the way. Then Saturday will be even warmer, up into the 30s to near 40 degrees. [More on our weather page].
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