Rains, storms flood areas of Metro Detroit; 850K+ without power across Michigan

Detroit — By Thursday afternoon, the worst of the rains that flooded homes and winds that knocked out power in southeast Michigan had come and gone. 

The heat and humidity that gripped the region for the week will soon follow. 

But first, Thursday will heat up, reaching about 90 degrees by mid-afternoon.

National Weather Service meteorologist Sara Schultz said there is still a chance of another half-inch to inch of thunderstorms later Thursday, mostly south of Detroit. 

"That can still cause problems, depending on where you are and how fast it falls," Schultz said. 

But the 2 to 4 inches of rain that have fallen remains a problem. A National Weather Service storm report map shows flooding and wind damage all across Michigan, from the Ohio border to Detroit to the west side of the state.

Interstate 696 and several other freeways in the Metro Detroit area are flooded Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.

Some 850,000 homes and businesses are left without power. 

DTE Energy reported at noon Thursday more than 600,000 customers were without power in the region.

"The severe weather caused damage to parts of our electric infrastructure and knocked down more than 2,000 power lines," DTE said in a statement late Wednesday. 

In an update just after noon Thursday, the utility says it has crews working 16-hour shifts around the clock. Estimates on when power will be restored will be posted on the outage map, it says, after crews assess the damage in each area. The map is online here, but most areas are reporting restoration estimates are "not available."

Consumers Energy reported nearly 240,000 customers in the dark across the state at noon Thursday. 

Consumers says that because of the storms Wednesday and Thursday, 350,000 Michigan homes and businesses have been impacted across the state. The storms rank among the 10 largest in company history based on total customer outages. The company says 550 of its crews and other from Michigan are working to restore power, along with crews from seven other states.

While the company says up to 100,000 will have power restored by Friday, more will have to wait through the weekend.

The weather service has issued a flood advisory through 11:30 a.m.

Stranded in his car on the exit ramp from eastbound Interstate 696 to Groesbeck Highway, Michael Butina, 45, of Warren was waiting a little after 7 a.m. Thursday for the tow truck he called.

He said he had been sitting there for more than a hour.  "Hopefully, the tow truck will get here soon," he said.

He said he was heading to work when he got off of the freeway but he didn’t see the standing water over the roadway until it was too late. The water, he said, reached just above the bottom of his car door.

"I know it's rained like this, but I have never seen it this bad before on this exit ramp," he said.

Butina said his car stopped and left him sitting there.

"The engine starts, but the car is just not moving," he said. "Hopefully, all it needs is to dry out. It is what it is. What are you going to do? It's Mother Nature."

Michael Butina of Warren was on his way to work Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, when standing water along Interstate 696 swamped the bottom of his car and he stalled out.

Several freeways were closed or restricted early Thursday due to flooding.

Social media posts have documented the aftermath of storms both Wednesday afternoon and early Thursday.

The series of storms that hit the area owes to a stalled cold front, National Weather Service meteorologist Trent Frey said.

"It can be expected with this type of air mass when it’s so hot and humid."

The storm pattern prompted the Great Lakes Water Authority to urge residents to watch for flooding threats.

"The ground today is still damp from rain earlier this week and will generate more runoff with less water being absorbed into the ground," it said in a statement. 

The hot, humid air is leaving. Friday's high should reach the mid-80s. But weekend highs will be more in line with seasonal averages, in the upper 70s to lower 80s. 

Vehicles are stalled in flood water on Hayes just north of Masonic in Fraser, Thursday morning, Aug. 12, 2021, after a series of storms moved through the area overnight.

The average high for an August day in Detroit is 81 degrees. Thus far, August 2021 has averaged two degrees hotter than that, 83.6. If Thursday reaches the expected highs, it will be the fifth straight day about 85 degrees in Detroit. Friday could be the sixth.

Rain and wind were widespread Wednesday as storms raced across the state, prompting marine warnings on waterways such as the St. Clair River as well as thunderstorm warnings for much of southeast Michigan.

William Ashe of Berkley surveys damage to his Chrysler Town & Country minivan after a tree collapsed on it during the storm in the 2800 block of Kenmore Road.

Residents in Harrison Township and Grosse Pointe Farms were warned to head to a sturdy building after emergency alerts were issued for "destructive 80 mph winds." 

"Take shelter," alerts warned. Sirens also were sounded in St. Clair Shores.

Jordan Coleman, left, Grace Bilicki and her brother, Noah Bilicki of Berkley take photos of a silver maple tree that fell on a home in the 3200 block of Kenmore during the storm.

Damage stretched across a wide swath after wind gusts above 60 mph were reported at Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus as well as in Oakland and Macomb counties.

Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township reported gusts of 75 mph, the weather service said.

Tree limbs were reported down Wednesday in Monroe, Oakland, Livingston, Wayne and Genesee counties, and trees toppled in Brighton and near a hospital in Wyandotte, the weather service said. One dropped on Milford Road near the entrance to Kensington Metropark.

Toppled trees damaged a house as well as minivan in Berkley neighborhoods.

"We were sitting on our front porch and we heard noises and sirens everywhere," said Lauren Brudenell, who lives on Kenmore where a tree fell on the house. She said she hung out on her porch during the storm as the skies grew dark.

Thursday morning, the city of Berkley said city hall, the library and the public works department were closed due to power outages. 

"Everyone is out of power here," Brudenell said Wednesday. "A lot of the Berkley DPW came out right away to clean up" debris and city-owned trees or limbs that feel in the storm.

The Macomb County Sheriff's Office tweeted its 911 lines were down at one point because of the storm.

One Twitter user shared photos of uprooted trees near Mooreville Road, west of Milan.

On the Dearborn Area Community Members Facebook page, users posted pictures of snapped tree trunks and smoking wires.

In Sumpter Township, public safety officials said they responded to numerous power lines and trees down from the storm. 

"These cause a tremendous safety risk and we ask you to stay clear of any down wires," officials said in an alert.

A tree fell and damaged a house on Taylor in Rochester during the storm Wednesday.