- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) - A blast of arctic air sent Michigan temperatures into a deep plunge on Monday, with lows dipping to minus 17 in the far north and 8 above zero in Detroit.

The hard freeze followed freezing rain and snow that made driving hazardous and caused numerous crashes over the weekend that claimed five lives.

Robert Dunstone, 81, was killed when the vehicle he was a passenger in crashed with another vehicle Sunday afternoon on an icy road in Escanaba in the central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, WLUC-TV reported.

Two crashes Sunday morning killed three people in western Michigan. Brittney Milton, 21, and her passenger, Kenneth Cheatom, 35, died when Milton’s car rolled over in Wyoming, Michigan, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Another motorist, Brandon Cleere, 25, was killed in a two-car crash in Grand Rapids.

On Saturday, Stephany Salazar, 48, was killed when a car hit her as she tried to help four people whose car slid into a ditch in Sanilac County’s Flynn Township in rural eastern Michigan.

Authorities urged motorists to slow down due to the conditions.

“Slick roads don’t cause crashes. People driving too fast on slick roads, cause crashes,” state police Lt. Michael Shaw said Monday in a news release. “Don’t be one of those people.”

Michigan’s temperatures were mainly in single digits Monday afternoon, ranging from 1 degree above zero in Menominee, in the Upper Peninsula, to 16 above in Ypsilanti, according to the National Weather Service. Ironwood, in western upper Michigan, registered the state’s coldest overnight temperatures, at minus 17. A warm-up is expected by the weekend.

Cold temperatures, snow and ice prompted some school districts to close for the day.

The shutdown on Monday extended holiday breaks for some students who were scheduled to return to class after about two weeks off.

Schools closed in the Escanaba area in the Upper Peninsula, as well as in parts of western and southwestern Michigan.

In Detroit, municipal government and nonprofit organizations set up three warming centers to offer places to get out of freezing temperatures for as many as 350 to 400 people at a time.

The centers are open through March 31. Detroit recreation centers and public library branches also serve as places for people to warm up.

Detroit is contracting with Cass Community Social Services, Operation Get Down and Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries to provide temporary relief from the cold weather.



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