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How to Stay Safe in the Bitter Cold

February is greeting us with arctic air, reminding us it is still winter in Northern Michigan. Thanks to a dip in the jet stream, the cold air from the arctic circle has been able to invade Northern Michigan this week, and it isn’t over yet.

Another cold front began moving through the region Thursday, followed by high pressure. The high pressure brings cold, continental arctic or polar air farther south into the northern United States.

The cold air expected Friday poses the risk of frostbite and hypothermia, if you are not properly dressed.


Don’t let the sunshine fool you on crisp winter days. The high temperatures for the daytime hours can be in the single digits, teens, or even colder. On top of that, any amount of wind will cause the air to feel even colder, creating a brutal wind chill.

The stronger the winds combined with low temperatures, the colder the wind chill. The colder the wind chill, the quicker you can get frostbite or hypothermia.

Hypothermia chances increase in cold air outbreaks because of the heat radiated out from our bodies. When there is no wind, our bodies create an insulating layer between our skin and the cold air that surrounds it. When there is wind, the heat is pulled away from our bodies, and speeds up how much heat we lose from our body.

Our normal body temperature is roughly 98.6°F, and hypothermia can begin to happen by dropping two to four degrees below your normal body temperature.


Frostbite can happen to exposed body parts at temperatures below 31°F. It mostly affects fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chins. It happens in different stages, and can cause permanent damage to deep tissues at later stages. The longer the area is exposed, the higher risk of severe frostbite.

You can reduce your chances of frostbite by covering exposed skin and limiting the time that you spend outside. Don’t forget about your pets either! Their bare paws can get frostbite too.

What to Expect Now

Wind chill advisories and winter weather advisories are in effect throughout the region Thursday, lasting into Friday.

Wind chills with sub-zero temperatures are expected for most of Northern Michigan through Saturday morning.


Some of the estimated wind chills range from -5 to -30 degrees, with the coldest during the nighttime hours.

Wind chills this cold can cause frostbite and hypothermia in less than 30 minutes!

Even though high-pressure is over us, we won’t be seeing as much blue sky. The northwest winds will be helping lake-effect snow fall over Northern Michigan, with some areas seeing up to 7 inches of snow. Winds are expected to be up to 25 mph, which will increase how cold it feels and reduce visibilities with blowing snow.

Traveling is expected to be hazardous at times because of the conditions. If you are traveling, make sure to keep blankets, shovels, and other items needed to keep you warm and safe.

For all the details on the current conditions, head to our forecast.