Rain, warm-up linger through Wednesday

Flooded Hanover street near Telegraph in Dearborn Heights, Michigan on February 20, 2018.

The system that brought record high temperatures and rainfall to Metro Detroit on Tuesday is set to linger through the night, sparking more showers and warmer-than-average readings.

“A brief lull in precipitation will be possible for communities located across the southern Metro region, but this will not mark the end of the event as a cold front will bring additional rain to the area tonight and overnight,” National Weather Service officials said in a statement. “Additionally, a rumble of thunder is not out of the question as the cold front moves through.”

Metro Detroit tied a record high of 63 Tuesday as showers continued. Rainfall amounts between a half and three-quarters of an inch are possible by dawn as the mercury hovers in the 40s. A flood warning continues through Wednesday afternoon.

“Urban, low lying and poor drainage areas prone to flooding will be most susceptible,” the weather service noted in its flood watch for southeast Michigan. “Rises on area rivers, streams and creaks are expected, with the potential for minor flooding to occur.”

AAA also issued a statewide flood alert, citing these factors as a “triple threat” to roads.

A thunderstorm is possible before 8 a.m., followed by more showers and wind gusts as high as 18 mph, the weather service said.


Flooding on Inkster Road near Cherry Hill in Dearborn Heights, Michigan on February 19, 2018.

The thermometer should drop into the 20s at night as skies clear. Thursday’s forecast calls for highs in the upper 30s, about average in late February, weather service records show.

That’s a shift from Tuesday, which seemed more like spring. Detroit Metro Airport tied a record high, 63, last set in 2016, according to the weather service.

More than 1.10 inches of rain fell, beating the previous record of 1.07 set in 1891.

Other rainfall totals since Monday include 2.73 inches in Pinckney; 1.95 inches in White Lake Township; and 1.88 inches in Farmington Hills. 

By Tuesday night, the National Weather Service reported moderate flooding in Clinton Township after the Clinton River reached its 16-foot flood level.

The Rouge River was 1.36 feet above its 12-foot flood stage in Southfield and 1.16 feet above the 15-foot flood level in Detroit, the weather service reported. 

The Huron River in Ann Arbor was at 14.53 feet, near the 16-foot flood level, according to the weather service. 

The rainfall caused flooding in Redford Township, police said, where officials closed Graham at Lennane for hours, in Canton Township on Sheldon Road and on Hanover in Dearborn Heights.

“Due to the heavy rainfall, frozen ground conditions coupled with rapidly melting snow, many of the ponds, creeks and streams in the area are at capacity,” city officials said in a statement. “Sheldon Road is currently closed between Palmer Road and Geddes Road due to flooding of the Lower Rouge River. Sheldon will only be open to local traffic until the water recedes. Motorists are advised to avoid driving onto roads that are covered with water. Even a shallow depth of fast-moving flood water produces more force than most people imagine.”

AAA advises drivers to avoid flooded roads and standing water, to drive slow, to avoid using cruise control, and to check their tires. The insurance company says about 5,700 car crash deaths per year in America occur on wet pavement. 

Michigan State Police also warned to prepare for flooding.

“Floods can be both damaging and life-threatening,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of emergency management for the state police, in a statement.

The Road Commission for Oakland County also urges drivers to use caution on gravel roads. The snow melt and rain  causes  roads to soften, become bumpy and has “contributed to washout-like conditions, especially in hilly areas,” the commission said in a statement. 

Further north, the Mackinac Bridge was closed to traffic due to ice falling from the cables and towers on the bridge.