'Hurricane force' winds possible in U.P. as wind warnings mount across Michigan

The Detroit News

High wind and storm warnings go into effect Wednesday night for west Michigan, as a system builds across the state and may produce 'hurricane force' winds in the Upper Peninsula.

Record high temperatures are possible Thursday before they take a plunge in a return to normal for the season.

"We expect some gusts over 60 mph late tonight, mostly along Lake Michigan, but with some isolated gusts that strong possible inland on Thursday morning," the National Weather Service said. "Impacts are expected to be similar to the last wind event with numerous power outages, but this time concentrated further north, from Muskegon to Big Rapids and north of there."

More:Here's where the highest wind gusts were recorded Saturday in Michigan

Wind advisory and high wind warnings for Michigan on Wednesday night and Thursday.

More than 100,000 Michigan residents lost power following a storm system Friday night and Saturday, and for some lasted nearly three days.

Consumers Energy said in a Wednesday release that it is preparing for potential damage to power lines.

"Consumers Energy has been monitoring this developing storm system for several days and is ready to respond," said Katie Carey, a company spokeswoman. "Restoration from last weekend’s storms was completed Monday afternoon.

"Personnel are getting sufficient rest while we are restocking our mobile storm units and essential materials."

A high wind warning will be in effect for Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee Mason, Lake, Leelanau, Osceola, Clare, Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, Muskegon, Ottawa and Wexford counties in west and northern Michigan, including the cities of Ludington, Baldwin, Reed City, Clare, Hart, Fremont, Big Rapids, Muskegon, Grand Haven, Traverse City and Jenison, until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Southwest winds 25-35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph are expected.

In the Upper Peninsula, "very strong winds will cause hazardous waves which could capsize or damage vessels and reduce visibility," according to the weather service.

A storm and gale warning are both in effect on Lake Superior from Grand Marais to Whitefish Point, five nautical miles offshore, including Manitou Island, Marquette and Portage Canal. 

Southwest winds 35 to 45 knots are expected with hurricane force gusts up to 70 knots possible, as well as 16 to 21-foot waves. West winds 30 to 40 knot with gusts up to 50 knots and waves 15 to 20 feet are expected.

The storm warning continues from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday while the gale warning  ends 4 a.m. Friday.

A high wind warning is in effect for northern and eastern areas starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday until 4 p.m. Thursday. Those areas include the cities of Petoskey, Cheboygan, Rogers City, Mancelona, Gaylord, Atlanta, Alpena, Kalkaska, Grayling, Mio, Harrisville, Lake City, Houghton Lake, Paradise, Sault Ste. Marie, Brimley, Kinross, Sugar Island, Detour Village, Goetzville, Drummond Island, St. Ignace, Brevort, Les Cheneaux Islands, Mackinac Island, St. James and Charlevoix.

A storm warning is in effect through 9 a.m. Thursday all along the state's Lake Michigan coastline, with southwest winds 25 to 35 knots and gusts up to 55 knots and waves 10 to 15 feet possible, according to the weather service.

A gale warning is in effect from Wednesday night through Thursday for Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay and for Lake St Clair and for the Michigan waters of Lake Erie from the Detroit River to North Cape. Maximum winds are expected around 8 a.m. Thursday with the largest waves, up to 4 feet, expected around 9 a.m., the weather service says.

For southeast Michigan, a wind advisory is in effect from until 4 p.m. Thursday with southwest winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 50 mph expected for areas including the cities of Midland, Bay City, Bad Axe, Saginaw, Caro, Sandusky, Owosso, Flint, Lapeer, Port Huron, Howell, Pontiac, Warren, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Adrian and Monroe.

A window of warmth will accompany the wind until the front passes.

Detroit Metro Airport reached a high of 54 degrees on Wednesday, far above the average, 37, for the date, weather service records show.

Those temperatures will persist into early Thursday, when the high could approach 60 degrees.

Normal temperatures for the Detroit-Flint-Saginaw area for mid-December are around 35 degrees. A record high of 61 for Detroit on Dec. 15 was set in 1933, and of 60 degrees in both Flint and Saginaw in 1971. Records for Dec. 16 were set in 1984 for all three cities: 65 in Detroit, 62 in Flint and 60 in Saginaw.

Similar records hold for west Michigan.

Record highs for west Michigan.

With temperatures plunging during the day Thursday and a return to more typical December weather on Friday, the weather service says the forecast hints "at an opportunity for some late-day accumulating snow north of Metro Detroit, and into the overnight hours." Light accumulations also are possible later Saturday in west Michigan.

Staff Writer Hani Barghouthi contributed.