Mike Johnston and his VW Bug are stalled in high water after he drove through flooded Railroad Street in St. Johns. (Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)
After two days of strong storms across the state that brought heavy rain, high winds and even a tornado, leaving thousands without electricity, Metro Detroit faces more chances for severe weather to end the workweek.
As a low pressure system moves over the Great Lakes, “we’re still going to have that chance for rain and thunderstorms” through Friday, said Sara Schultz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It’s been an active week and it will continue to be that way.”
Temperatures today could reach the low 80s under mostly cloudy skies and drop into the 60s overnight, according to the weather service. Friday’s forecast calls for showers and thunderstorms with highs in the 70s. Saturday also has a chance for showers and storms.
That follows a major wake-up call Mother Nature gave the area starting early Wednesday, when a series of massive storms brought cannonades of thunder and spidery lightning. Then, in the afternoon, another severe round wreaked havoc — prompting a flood advisory and severe thunderstorm watch.
Trees fell or lost limbs in Adrian, Ann Arbor, Brighton, Monroe and St. Clair Shores; several inches of rain flooded portions of Mount Clemens, Chelsea, Pinckney and Grand Blanc; and power lines fell in areas of Genesee and Livingston counties. Lightning strikes also sparked fires in Davison and North Branch, while Adrian had an 81 mile-per-hour wind gust and 1.71 inches of water fell in Washtenaw County near Ann Arbor in one 4-hour span, according to weather service reports. Twitter also showed a photo of a house in Sterling Heights that reportedly had been struck by lightning.
Lightning also struck buildings in Sterling Heights, Clinton Township and Warren, according to broadcast reports.
IDTE Energy Co. said at least 40,000 of its customers lost power Wednesday, while CMS Energy Corp. reported about 22,000 blackouts and Lansing Board of Water & Light about 3,500.
By 10 p.m. Wednesday, an estimated 36,000 DTE customers remained without power, including 14,000 in Wayne County, 15,000 in Oakland County and about 5,000 in Macomb County, spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said. Most were expected to be restored today. “We’ll probably have to work through the night and the morning to get everybody,” he said.
In Troy, Department of Public Works crews worked to cut downed trees that blocked roads. The city also experienced scattered downed power lines. On West Wattles near Finch, power lines hung about 5 feet above the ground after a tree fell on the wires and snapped two poles.
Oak Park also had power outages caused by a downed transformer, but those were due to an equipment failure, said DTE Energy Spokeswoman Randi Berris. There were about 515 customers without power. Repairs could take three to four days.
Storms knocked Detroit Public Television off the air for a couple of minutes late Wednesday afternoon.
According to the weather service, the storm system evolved from a warm front stretching from Iowa across southern Michigan. “Much of the system developed over Wisconsin and western Michigan overnight and then moved in our direction,” Considine said.
For Consumers, the majority of the outages were centered in Kent and Muskegon counties, according to spokesman Terry DeDoes.
There also were brief sporadic outages at Metro Airport’s North Terminal, but everything was back to normal late Wednesday morning, according to airport spokesman Mike Conway. Operations at the McNamara Terminal were unaffected.
The storms earlier this week caused problems elsewhere in the state. On Tuesday, a tornado hit about noon in Hale, an unincorporated community in Iosco County’s Plainfield Township about 55 miles north of Bay City, the weather service said. There were no reported injuries. The tornado was on the ground about 2 minutes with maximum winds of 100 mph, the weather service said.
A funnel cloud was sighted in Ogemaw County about 11:40 a.m., the weather service said. The site was about 8 miles east-southeast of West Branch. Winds gusting up to 60 mph knocked down trees, blocking a highway in Crawford County, the weather service said.