Tens of thousands without power in Metro Detroit; Otsego Co. closes roads

DTE line crews repair a power line along Caniff Street near Oakland Street in Detroit on Sunday, February 24, 2019, as high winds caused power outages in the area.

High winds Sunday knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers in southeast Michigan as crews scrambled to restore service amid wind gusts of more than 60 mph. and blowing snow. Meanwhile, northern Michigan's Otsego County closed its roads because of "treacherous conditions." 

A high-wind warning is in effect for southeast Michigan until 4 a.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Sustained west winds of 30-40 mph and frequent gusts of 50-60 mph are expected. "Brief intervals" of gusts of more than 60 mph are possible through midnight. Light snow and windy conditions with 29 degrees were reported Sunday night.

In northern Michigan, a blizzard warning was in effect until Monday morning. A low of 6 was reported Sunday night; a high of 11 was expected for Monday.

A low-pressure system that will move from the northern Great Lakes to western Quebec on Sunday night was bringing colder air and "a long duration high wind event" until early Monday, the weather service said in announcing a marine weather message. A storm warning is in effect for Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair; a gale warning is in effect for western Lake Erie.

A high-wind warning means sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph or gusts or guts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage, the weather service said.

About 40,000 DTE customers were without power in southeast Michigan Sunday night, down from about 108,000, DTE said as winds ramped up during the "bomb cyclone" weather event.

DTE spokeswoman Randi Berris said the company had received 500 reports of downed power lines. 

"There really isn't one area that's impacted more than others in our coverage area," Berris said. "It's scattered throughout the territory."

More than 52,000 Consumers Energy customers on the west side of the state lost power Sunday. By evening, service was restored to all but 1,657 of them, according to the company website.

In northern Michigan, the Otsego County Emergency manager declared a travel advisory emergency for the county amid a blizzard warning. "All roads in Otsego including I-75 have been closed due to treacherous conditions," MSP in northern Michigan said on Twitter. Northbound and southbound Interstate 75 was closed.

MSP urged motorists to "stay off the roads in Otsego County" amid blowing snow and wind chill values of minus 11.

Drivers on I-75 near Gaylord "are becoming stuck int he drifting snow," MSP tweeted. I-75 would be closed, it said, until 7 a.m.


The Crawford County Emergency Management  & Homeland Security reported on Facebook that I-75 was shut down in both directions and said Otsego County had declared a travel advisory emergency due to the weather. 

In Bay County, winds knocked over a tractor-trailer, MSP Detroit said on Twitter. "Evidence of the high winds impacting the Bay Region" on southbound I-75 near Prevo Road, MSP said.

A high-wind warning for Metro Detroit went into effect at 7 a.m. Sunday. Since then, wind gusts of 61 mph were recorded in Detroit and Saginaw, the weather service said on Twitter; elsewhere, 49 mph was recorded in Ypsilanti and 48 in Adrian, where damage was reported to a roof at Adrian College, the National Weather Service reported. 

Sunday reached its high temperature in the mid-40s by late morning as the winds blew in warm air from the southwest.

Travelers to and from Metro Airport should double-check their plans -- 45 flights had been canceled and another 13 had been delayed, according to Flightaware.com. 

The National Weather Service called for light snow Monday night in southern Metro Detroit; and on Tuesday, a larger system is expected to dump between 2-4 inches in the region's northern suburbs.

The exterior cover of the Detroit Pistons practice facility is blown out and ripped off in many areas of the building as high winds hit the Metro Detroit area on Sunday, February 24, 2019.


Motorists maneuver around obstacles as high winds toppled a road caution sign along Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

Michigan State Police tips to prepare for a power outage:

Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer. Cold water bottles will help keep food cold during a power outage and can also be used for drinking water.

Check with your physician or pharmacist about any medication that requires refrigeration. It is important to know how long medication is safe in the refrigerator without power.

Make a plan to prepare for family members with disabilities or who have ill health.

Try to keep gas tanks at least half full. If the power goes out, gas stations may be unavailable.

Have extra cash available. ATMs will not work without electricity.

Keep a key to the house with you when away from home. The garage will not open if the power is out.