We had a stretch of weather at the end of January 2019 that was absolutely historic. What is generally called the Deep Freeze of 2019 or the Polar Vortex of 2019, began in late January in some regions and lasted a few days into February that year.

Heavy snow and areas of Lake effect snow were followed by some insanely cold temperatures and extreme wind chills that we hadn't seen in decades. In fact, temperatures barely made it above 0 for almost 48 hours straight and at nearly -20 degrees, several areas broke longstanding record lows. Some businesses in Michigan were closed for an entire week, and many schools also canceled classes for an entire week. Numerous car pile-ups led to the closure of many highways, and interstates.

On January 28, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency due to the record low windchill temperatures. There were three fatalities related to the cold. One was in Detroit, another in Ecorse, and a third in the Lansing area.

You may remember a weird EAS Alert that came through from Governor Whitmer and Consumers Energy asked residents to turn down their thermostats to 65 degrees during the record cold. It was due to a fire reported at a compressor station in Macomb County due to extra gas usage.

Here are some temperature records that were broken in West Michigan:

January 30, 2019 (Battle Creek)

  • Old Record: -13 (1951)
  • New Record: -18 (2019)

January 31, 2019 (Battle Creek)

  • Old Record: -10 (1899)
  • New Record: -20 (2019)

January 31, 2019 (Kalamazoo)

  • Old Record: -15 (1899)
  • New Record -18 (2019)


Several other cities around the state broke similar longstanding records during this stretch. Detroit spent 36 consecutive hours below 0. Battle Creek was just four degrees shy from tying, and five degrees shy from breaking, the coldest temperature ever recorded in the city.

Vintage Michigan Winters


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