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Ice storm leaves 305K in Mich. without power

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After a weekend of fire and ice, things should calm down a bit the next few days. But don’t be looking for blue skies just yet.

It could rain Monday and Wednesday, and it will remain colder than normal, said the National Weather Service. High temperatures will be in the low 40s Monday and Tuesday and reaching 50 on Wednesday.

Still, that’s better than the mini-apocalypse Sunday that included flooded freeways, power outages, ice-encrusted buildings and fires started by downed power lines.


An ice covered ax in the yard of Pete Risberg, of Royal Oak, is the result of an overnight ice storm in the Metro Detroit  on Sunday.

About 305,000 homes and businesses were without power Sunday night and some won’t get it back for several days, said DTE Energy.

Among those affected are area schools, including in Wayne County: Academic Gardens Preschool, Concordia Lutheran South - Lutheran-Missouri Synod, David Ellis Academy West-Redford and Wayne County RESA.

The schools will remain without power Monday and possibly Tuesday.

DTE said its crews are working around the clock but are hampered by the wretched weather and dangerous road conditions. It has requested help from neighboring energy companies, whose reinforcements will arrive early Monday.

The utility said its focus Sunday was on public safety, identifying and security downed power lines. It reported that 1,000 lines had fallen in Wayne County; there were 2,000 downed lines in total in DTE's coverage in Metro Detroit.

DTE said it hoped to restore power to 90 percent of the affected customers by Tuesday night.

“Restoration will be challenging,” it said in a news release.

DTE, which covers parts of southeast Michigan, said 290,000  customers didn’t have power Sunday night. Consumers Energy, which services most of the remaining state, reported 15,000  customers without power.

Consumers Energy said it hoped to restore power to most of the affected customers by late Monday. It has 1,500 workers, including ones from five nearby states, working on the problem in Michigan.

The scenes of mayhem Sunday included two major freeways slowed by flooding.

The north- and southbound lanes of Interstate 75 was under water between Seven and Eight Mile roads after a local pump station lost power, said the Michigan Department of Transportation. Vehicles skittishly avoided the water by driving on the shoulder. Detroit police warned motorists to avoid the area until late Sunday.

The northbound lanes of Michigan Highway 10 were flooded at Wyoming Street, said MDOT. The traffic became further congested as the power outage left nearby traffic signals blank.

The weather service issued a flood warning Sunday evening until further notice for the Lower Rouge River. By 6 p.m. Sunday, the river was 13.4 feet and rising; flood stage is 15 feet, the weather service said. A flood warning continued Sunday night for the Saginaw River, which was expected to remain above flood stage -- 17.1 feet -- due to heavy rain. Flood stage is 17 feet, the weather service said, and the river was expected to crest at around 18.1 feet Monday.

Meanwhile, amid all the rain and sleet and ice, 10 vehicles caught fire at a used car dealership in Warren after being struck by an arching power line, said Mayor Jim Fouts. The wind and ice accumulation on the wire caused it to drop, he said.

It was one of 50 downed wires in the city, the mayor wrote on his Facebook page. The cars were destroyed.

“We will be on this as long as is needed,” Fouts wrote about weather-related problems in the city.

With most people staying off the roads, serious car accidents were at a minimum, said police. Michigan State Police reported two crashes on Metro Detroit highways.

In Monroe County, residents from 50 lakefront homes in Grand Beach were evacuated from the flooding Lake Erie, said the Frenchtown Township Fire Department.

The Fire Department used boats, along with ones provided by residents, to rescue 70 people, it said on its Facebook page. The water reached heights of 4 feet, said fire officials.

Wind gusts of 40 miles per hour pushed the water over a break wall, said fire officials

“The guys on A shift did an amazing job today!” wrote the department. 

All over the state, freezing rain that began falling overnight had left roads treacherous and cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Heavy snow was forecast to dump a foot or more of snow on parts of the state’s Upper Peninsula by early Monday.

Churchgoers and other motorists had to build more time into their commutes to scrape ice off their vehicles. 

The weather has also affected freeway rest stops, with rest stops off Interstate 94 at Belleville Road, and off Interstate 275 and Cherry Hill both closed Sunday due to power outages.

Belle Isle in Detroit has also experienced flooding, said Michigan State Police.

The Detroit Tigers postponed the second half of a Sunday doubleheader with the New York Yankees. Initially, the early game was the only one postponed.



The Thorofare Canal in Grosse Ile, part of the Detroit River, was overflowing many seawalls and docks Sunday morning.

In Monroe County, the Frenchtown Fire Department said it was evacuating Grand Beach residents due to sever flooding. In a post on its Facebook page, the department said the water is about 4 foot in depth.

"Anyone near the beaches that is experiencing raising water levels should consider finding somewhere to go while the flooding last, the department said.

Wendy Stevens, chief of the Frenchtown Township Fire Department, told The Detroit News in an  email that evacuations started about 7 a.m., and there are about 75 homes in flood waters as of early afternoon. A high-speed wind, almost 40 miles per hour, brought a large volume of water over the break wall, Stevens wrote. 

Other homes remain in the path of rising water, she said, but the hope is that winds will die down at about 3 p.m.

"We pray this gives our residents a reprieve," Stevens wrote.

The Detroit Tigers have postponed the second half of a Sunday doubleheader with the New York Yankees. Initially, the early game was the only one postponed, but both games are now 

No day until Wednesday is projected to have a high temperature above 45 degrees, and no day this week is protected to hit 55 degrees. 

Extended forecast

Sunday: Rain with a high of 46 degrees; low of 37 degrees.

Monday: Showers of rain or snow with a low of 31 and a high around 41 degrees.

Tuesday: Highs of 44; low temperatures around 31. It will be partly sunny.

Wednesday: A chance of showers after 2 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 50. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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