Metro storm floods portions of I-75, I-94, M-10
On a day when federal officials toured parts of Metro Detroit to access damage from an earlier, epic storm, the region saw more rain Tuesday that flooded roads, stalled cars and knocked out power to about 160,000 homes and businesses.
But it wasn’t a repeat of that earlier storm, as some feared as they drove home Tuesday.
During a period of almost two hours Tuesday, about 2 inches fell in some spots, mainly Detroit, Hamtramck, Dearborn and Grosse Pointe, according to the National Weather Service, prompting a flood advisory. Some freeways, including parts of Interstates 75 and 94, flooded. Wind gusts reached as high as 60 mph, downing trees in Grosse Pointe Woods as well as snapping limbs in Livonia and Westland.
Two lightning strikes caused fires in Taylor, displacing some apartment residents.
The heavier storm on Aug. 11 doused Metro Detroit with 4-6 inches of rain during a 12-hour period. That storm was unusual, while Tuesday’s storm was not, said Heather Orow, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “There’s no commonality between them,” she said. “It’s just a random chance.”
Tuesday’s storms still caused headaches for some commuters, and fears of another monster flood.
Andy Krieger was driving on I-94 about 4 p.m. Tuesday, headed home to Grosse Pointe Farms from work in Allen Park, when the storm struck.
Within minutes on the westbound side, he saw water swelling above some cars’ wheels.
“I was shocked at how quickly the roads flooded and how bad it was flooded,” said Krieger, who diverted to side streets to get home. “If it did that to the freeway in the 10 minutes it was raining, in another 10 minutes ... it was going to be a total repeat of Aug. 11. It was like 2½, 3 feet deep.”
The storms that hit Tuesday likely were fueled by sultry air. Detroit Metro Airport recorded a high of 90, shy of the record 96 set in 1953 but 10 degrees above normal, according to weather service records.
Crews from the MDOT were investigating I-94 flooding near downtown Detroit on Tuesday evening. “We’ll all be working to address these situations as soon as possible,” said Diane Cross, MDOT spokeswoman. “Is it just drains being blocked? We’ll check the pump houses. That was part of the problem with the last flood.”
She dismissed reports that fabric used to cover sewers on freeways during road construction was causing obstructions.
Cross did not return phone late Tuesday about what caused the flooding.
About 120,000 homes and businesses were without power, down from about 160,000 earlier, according to DTE Energy. The outages were scattered with concentrations in Westland, Inkster and Farmington.
There was no estimate of when power would be restored, but DTE crews are working 16-hour shifts and about 120 additional crews from across the Midwest were expected to start helping Wednesday, the utility said.
CMS. Energy Corp. said as many as 9,000 customers lost power. By late Tuesday evening, 3,000 remained out.
After the downpour, stop lights were out in Highland Park and Detroit. The storm also brought lightning strikes, which reportedly sparked two fires in Taylor.
One was reported about 5 p.m. in a vacant home on McGuire, said battalion Chief Glenn Ross of the Taylor Fire Department. While firefighters responded, they learned another lightning strike had caused a blaze at the Taylor Woods apartment complex on Mount Vernon, he said.
“It’s pretty rare,” Ross said of the double strike, which forced firefighters to request mutual aid from other communities.
No injuries were reported, but two second-floor units at the apartment complex were “total losses,” Ross said.
It wasn’t immediately clear when residents of the other units in the building, which had smoke and water damage, could return.
The Southeastern Michigan Regional Chapter of the American Red Cross offered assistance to 24 adults and two children at the complex, spokesman Gary Krupczak said.
The storm’s deluge sparked angst on social media, where some commuters worried about a redux of this month’s earlier storm.
“We don’t need this,” wrote BatGirl on Twitter. “We already got flooded August 11th.”
Another user lamented: “And ... cue .... a rain delay. … Detroit is flooding again.”
The Associated Press contributed.