Spring storm brings wintry mix, outages to state
A springtime wintry mix has knocked out power to thousands in Michigan on Thursday as more than 5 inches of snow settled in some areas.
And more is on the way, according to the National Weather Service. The storm moved into the state Wednesday and is expected to continue into Thursday afternoon or evening, when snow totals could reach 12 inches, depending on the location.
The heaviest snowfall reported Thursday morning was near Mount Pleasant, but ice from freezing rain also was a concern. In Greenville, there were ice reports of up to a quarter-inch, according to the weather service.
The Detroit area and other parts of southern Michigan, meanwhile, got heavy rain instead of snow. Much further north, high winds prompted Mackinac Bridge officials to require that some bigger vehicles cross under escort.
Scattered power outages were reported throughout middle and western Michigan.
More than 13,500 Consumers Energy customers were without power mid Thursday afternoon, according to the company’s online outage map.
Of almost 1.9 million customers, 13,609 were without power just after 2:30 p.m., representing 0.7 percent of customers statewide. That figure was down from Thursday morning’s cumulative total of 21,000 customers affected since 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to company spokesman Terry DeDoes.
“What we’re dealing with is heavy snow and ice,” DeDoes said early Thursday afternoon. “Ice is typically the most damaging to our equipment and the most difficult condition to work in to restore.”
Montcalm County was experiencing by far the most outages early Thursday, with 6,113 customers affected, or 22.9 percent of customers in that county. Kent County broke the 2,000 customer threshold, with 2,201 customers without power.
Besides Montcalm County, the highest percentage of customers without power was in Osceola County, where 13.7 percent — or 1,031 residents — were affected Thursday afternoon.
The scattered outages have various estimated power restoration times, ranging from early to late afternoon Thursday. Some outages are “awaiting” experts to determine restoration times.
The map will be updated throughout the afternoon and evening Thursday as more customers become affected by the ongoing storm and as experts zero in on restoration times, DeDoes said.
“We could still see more customers affected because the storm is continuing. We have crews out making assessments all the time,” he said. “We will continue to update (the map) as we find out more about the individual interruptions and the damages associated with them, and what it’s going to take to make the repairs.”
In the meantime, DeDoes offered several safety tips to residents caught up in the storm.
“We are seeing downed wires associated with this and we encourage everyone to be aware that the potential exists,” he said. “Keep kids and pets away, at least 25 feet. We ask residents to report (downed wires). They can call either 911 or the local utility if they have that number.”
DeDoes also cautioned those with generators to keep the machines outside.
“Generator safety is very important, especially in regard to carbon monoxide poisoning. We want to get the message out to never use a portable generator inside the home,” he said. “They should even be kept away from windows or doors. In the summer we have issues with the fumes going in through the open windows.”
To those braving slick roads, DeDoes asked drivers to watch out for utility crews working to restore power to the area.
“Slow down, be aware of the crews, and drive with caution,” he said.
Extended forecast for Metro Detroit
Thursday: Rain, with thunderstorms also possible after 3 p.m. High near 58. South southeast wind 6 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Thursday night: A chance of rain before 1 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 11 to 18 mph becoming northwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent.
Friday: Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 45. Northwest wind 7 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.
Friday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 30. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph after midnight.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 54. Southeast wind 3 to 7 mph.
Saturday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 38.
Sunday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent.
Sunday night: Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36.
Monday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 48.
Monday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 32.
Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 48.
Tuesday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 34.
Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 55.
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