Temperatures to plunge after strong winds whip across Michigan

The Detroit News

Thursday is set to end quietly and colder after an unusual December warm-up and strong winds produced power outages for thousands of energy customers across Michigan.

Consumers Energy said it was aiming to restore power to the remaining 123,001 by Friday night and "nearly all customers by the end of Saturday."

The company said the number of people without electricity early Thursday were centered on the lakeshore and the company was "responding with all hands on deck."

In a call with reporters Thursday, Consumers officials said more than 190,000 outages had been reported and 100-year-old trees were toppled.

By Thursday night, it said crews had restored power to more than 51,000 customers and would work through the night as winds died down. The company said 65-75 mph winds hampered restoration efforts.

"Mother Nature packed a heavy punch," he said. "... We've experienced 60 to 70 mile per hour winds knocking down trees limbs and causing more than 2000 powerlines to come down. Those are Category 1, hurricane-type winds."

Winds knocked down trees, limbs and more than 2,300 power lines, Consumers said.

Contractors have been brought from out-of-state to help with the restoration efforts, which were expected to last through Saturday, Consumers officials said.

Wind gusts in west Michigan on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

DTE Energy, with more customers in Metro Detroit, reported about 9,900 initially. The largest clusters were near Dundee, Milford and Romeo. That number dipped to 2,778 by early Friday.  with 79 crews in the field.

The weather stems from a large system that moved across the country Wednesday. In Colorado, for example, a 100 mph gust of wind was recorded.

More:1 dead as Midwest winds whip up dust, blow over semitrailers

The National Weather Service issued wind warnings and advisories for much of the day Thursday.

Some were extended until 8 p.m., including for Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

"Sporadic gusts up to 50 mph will be possible through the early evening," the advisory said.

Earlier Thursday, the weather service reported wind gusts as high as 66 mph in the Thumb region, while Saginaw saw 62 mph.

Trash containers on a windy day along Meyers near Norfolk in Detroit on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

The winds will continue to weaken overnight. "It'll still be breezy," said Alex Manion, a meteorologist with the weather service's office in White Lake Township. "We'll still see winds that are about 30 mph after (the advisory expires,) but they'll dwindle in the overnight period."

Manion also said temperatures will plummet quickly.

After topping out in the 50s, he said, "we'll get down to the upper 30s by 5 or 6 p.m."

Flint earlier hit 63 degrees, breaking the daily record of 62 in 1984. Saginaw reached 62, breaking the old daily record of 60 in 1984.

Detroit Metro Airport reached 60, far above the average for the date, 37, but below the record 65 set in 1984. 

Manion said the fall may seem fast in comparison to the recent warm weather the region has seen, but it's typical with a cold front, "especially when we've had such a warm regime in winter." 

Storm and gale warnings, with high winds.

The high wind comes just days after a weekend storm left hundreds of thousands across the state without power, some for days.

Extended forecast

Friday: Mostly sunny; high 41, low 32.

Saturday: Snow showers; high 37, low 25.

Sunday: Mostly sunny; high 33, low 25.

Monday: Mostly sunny; high 39, low 28.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny; high 38, low 27.

Wednesday: Partly sunny; high 40.

Source: National Weather Service