Winds that knocked out power in Mich. to linger

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Raquel Wardlow of Detroit braves the cold wind walking along W. Chicago Street as low temperatures hit the Metro Detroit area on Feb. 8, 2019.

More than 123,000 Consumers Energy and DTE Energy customers remain without electricity Friday after freezing rain and strong winds downed thousands of power lines across Michigan.

Strong winds continued through 3 p.m., and energy officials said more customers could lose power on Friday.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service's office in White Lake Township Thursday issued a wind advisory for all of southeast Michigan that was in effect until 10 a.m. Gusts of about 45 mph and winds with speeds of 30-40 mph were predicted to linger through the afternoon.

In addition, temperatures will fall from a high of 21 degrees into the teens and combine with the winds to result in wind chills below zero.

The low may plummet to 10 degrees with a wind chill as low as minus 4 degrees, according to the agency. The wind chill in Detroit may fall to minus 4, minus 7 in Pontiac and minus 11 in Bad Axe in the Thumb.

Lake effect snow showers are also possible Friday with less than one inch of snow accumulating for most areas, the weather service said.  

Officials with Consumers Energy said about 148,014 of its customers, primarily in the western part of the state, were in the dark as of noon Friday. They expect to restore power to most of those customers late Sunday and homeowners in the hardest hit areas may not get electricity back until Monday.

“We are committed to restoring power as quickly and safely as possible to our neighborhoods across Michigan and will continue working 24-7 to do so," said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy's vice president of electric operations, in a statement Friday. "We remain grateful for our customers’ patience as we continue to assess damage, secure downed lines and make repairs,” said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric operations. 

About 229,000 of its customers lost electric service since 1 a.m. Wednesday due to ice storms.

Based in Jackson, Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy company and provides natural gas or electricity to 6.7 million customers in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Closer to Metro Detroit, DTE Energy said it estimates about 2,000of its customers in southeast Michigan were still without power Friday morning. Winds knocked down more than 90 power lines across the region, according to the company.

Officials with the Detroit-based energy company said service is expected to be restored to those customers later Friday.

They said about 39,000 customers were affected by the winter storm. 

"Once restoration of all DTE customers is complete, 42 DTE linemen and 25 support personnel will head to Grand Rapids to help restore power to the more than 120,000 Consumers Energy customers currently without power after ice and wind storms this week," DTE officials said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Extended forecast

Saturday: Sunny with a high near 22 degrees and a low of about 15 degrees.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 28 degrees and a low of about 21 degrees. Snow likely after 1 p.m. and less than one inch is possible.

Monday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 32 degrees and a low of about 25 degrees.  

Tuesday: Cloudy with a high near 39 degrees and a low of about 27 degrees. Snow is expected before 11 a.m. followed by rain and snow until 2 p.m. After, there will be a chance of rain.

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 32 degrees and a low of about 21 degrees. 

Thursday: Partly sunny with a high near 32 degrees.

Source: National Weather Service
Twitter: @CharlesERamirez