Utilities making progress, but 200K-plus remain without power after high winds tore across Michigan

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Consumers Energy and DTE crews are making progress in restoring power in Michigan, but more than 200,000 customers remain without power Saturday evening after wind gusts of 60 mph or more tore through the state.

Severe weather started hitting West Michigan and the lakeshore Saturday morning and swept through mid-Michigan Saturday afternoon, felling trees, limbs and power lines.

At 4 p.m. 244,055 Michigan customers were without power but by 6:30 p.m. that number had been lowered to 212,599.

Consumers Energy reported 2,303 customers without power at 12:45 a.m., and DTE reported 85,117.

Dave Guerney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township, said a high wind warning is in effect until 8 p.m. tonight due to a cold front moving in and causing wind gusts.

Gusts of 60 mph and higher were reported in several locations Saturday.

Temperatures will continue to fall throughout the day, dropping to about 40 degrees by early evening, Guerney.

High winds Saturday blew down a huge tree in the 7300 block of Coleman Street in Dearborn, Michigan.

At 12:45 a.m. Sunday DTE said it had 247 crews in the field and Consumers Energy said it had 255 crews working to restore power.

“Our crews in the field are seeing significant damage with trees snapped and lines down across our service territory,”  Melissa Gleespen, Consumers Energy’s Officer in Charge for the storm event, said in a press release. “We thank customers for their patience as we wait for the winds to die down so crews can safely restore power.”

The strong winds made access to pole tops and power lines dangerous from bucket trucks, Consumers Energy said. A majority of affected customers are expected to be restored by the end of the day Monday. 

DTE said severe wind gusts of up to 65 mph caused extensive damage, including 700 downed wires, broken poles and tree-related damage.

DTE crews are assessing damage and working to provide restoration estimates, which will be available on the DTE Energy Outage Map throughout the day.

High winds Saturday blew down a huge tree in the 7300 block of Coleman Street in Dearborn, Michigan.

In Dearborn, high winds toppled a huge tree in the 7300 block of Coleman Street. The trees' roots lifted up the sidewalk, and the trunk and limbs blocked the street but somehow missed neighboring houses.

In Pontiac, which had wind gusts of 53 mph, the awning over the Phoenix Center was ripped to shreds. Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman said traffic in the area was  rerouted as a  precaution. 

Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman

Waterman said the damage shows the need for the city to make needed improvements to the Phoenix Center, which was built in the 1980s. 

"This brings to our mind again that we have to do the repairs and the refurbishing of the Phoenix Center like we planned to do all along. This of course is unfortunate and unexpected but right now we just want to alert people to the safety measures," Waterman said.

The awning over the Phoenix Center is torn to shreds due to high winds in Pontiac, Michigan, on December 11, 2021.

The city of Warren pushed back its Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Saturday, to 4:20 p.m. Sunday due to numerous power outages. 

Traffic lights were out in many areas, including at the Lincoln and 11 Mile intersections along Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak.

DTE customers should report outages or down power lines online at outage.dteenergy.com or with the DTE Energy Mobile app, or by calling 800-477-4747.

Consumers Energy customers can report an outage and check the status of an outage by visiting www.ConsumersEnergy.com/OutageCenter.

Customers can also sign up to get outage alerts and restoration times sent to a phone, email or text message, Text ‘REG' to 232273 or visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/alerts.