As more bitter cold air hits the Midwest, many schools stopped classes for another day, which is frustrating for parents. Also, people in Detroit who are proud of their automotive history are now having car trouble because of the cold weather.
AAA said in an advisory that “extremely cold temperatures can wreak havoc on vehicle functionality.” They warned that temperatures will be in the single digits and teens for the next few days, with a wind chill that is even colder. They also said that “calls for dead batteries and other service-related needs across Michigan are expected to jump.”
The National Weather Service says that Wednesday will be in the teens and that metro Detroit will have a subzero wind chill warning until noon. It will get a few degrees warmer on Thursday, and it will snow 2 to 4 inches. On Friday, it will snow another 2 inches.
As of today, the temperature is 32 degrees, which is below freezing. Until Monday, the high temperature will still be 33 degrees. At the same time, four or five cars were waiting in line Wednesday at the charging station for electric vehicles at 8 Mile and Woodward. They were trying to find an open spot while complaining that it was taking too long to charge.
Mike Williams, 22, of Southfield, said, “It has never been this slow” as he waited for his Tesla Model X to charge. He also said that the car is not good for cold weather. “It’s terrible!” Rodney Morley, an Uber driver who is 45 years old, said that it was even worse the night before at a charging station in Roseville, where 50 cars were trying to get a spot. He said that some of them lost power and had to be pushed to a charger.
AAA in Michigan said that service calls for all kinds of cars—gas and electric—are up about 240% since this time last year. Adrena Woodland, spokeswoman for the car club, said that most of the calls were for dead batteries, flat tires, and tows. “We’ve been very busy and we are prioritizing stranded motorists and those in emergency situations,” she said. “However, we are advising people to stay home if it’s not critical to travel.”
According to dispatcher Gina Frontenac, the number of calls at Detroit’s Troy’s Towing has tripled in the last few days during the day shift. People have to wait up to two hours for help, and there are “a lot more accidents” because people slip on the ice and hit potholes.
Automakers have been trying to move toward electric cars, but one of the biggest problems with them is that they need batteries. It’s hard to charge them because it’s so cold, which shows doubters that the technology still has a long way to go.
Since it’s going to be cold all week, it’s not clear how long schools will be closed, which makes it harder to find child care. Concerns about the weather include not only the fact that the snow and freezing temperatures will make driving dangerous, but also the fact that the cold makes frostbite more likely.
Police in Oakland County said that at least one man died from being too cold. But in some school districts, parents are also worried that their kids aren’t taking their final tests on time, which could hurt their grades.
Ferndale Public Schools were closed on Wednesday but look like they will be open again on Thursday. In their announcement, they said that they were closed on Wednesday “due to the forecasted subzero temperatures and wind chill conditions in the region.”
The district also said that tests for middle school and high school students have been moved to next Monday and the rest of the week. When asked about the problems drivers face, AAA told them to keep at least half a tank of gas in their cars to keep the gas lines from freezing, make sure the engine water has antifreeze, and park in a garage or put a tarp over the hood if they could.
EV owners have extra fears. At first, it was power dependability, as tens of thousands of people in Michigan waited for utilities to fix their downed power lines. But now that the power is mostly back on but it’s still very cold, news outlets across the country are reporting long lines at charging sites.
The news, mostly from Chicago, is mostly about the problems with electric vehicles (EVs). They talk about how frustrated EV owners are with dead batteries because the cold drains power and makes it take hours to even partly charge them.
Tesla is a well-known company that makes electric cars. On its website, it says, “vehicles use more energy to heat the battery and cabin, and it’s normal to see energy consumption increase.” It also said that doors, autopilot devices, and charging could get frozen in the cold.
That’s bad news for electric cars, and ads can’t change that. Before the big freeze that hit the country, there were signs that car companies and rental car companies like Hertz are rethinking their big plans for electric cars. Hertz, for example, put all of its money into electric vehicles (EVs), but it just recently said it would sell 20,000 cars, or one-third of its EV fleet, to make room for gas-powered cars. It said that the reason was higher costs for accidents and fixes.