Snow showers, gusty winds replace ice Wednesday
First it was ice-coated streets, trees and power lines on Tuesday. Next up: snow showers with reduced visibility and wind gusts over 40 mph, the weather service says.
The ice that encased the region Tuesday, leaving slippery streets and downed wires and tree limbs, gives way to rain, snow and sleet Wednesday in St. Clair, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. A winter weather advisory expires at noon.
Areas that iced over Tuesday will see further complications from dropping temperatures overnight, high winds and more precipitation, the National Weather Service said.
A high wind warning was in effect Wednesday morning for drivers on the Mackinac Bridge. The warning instructed motorists to "reduce their speed to a maximum of 20 mph, turn on their four way flashers and utilize the outside lane."
The Mackinac Bridge closed Tuesday afternoon because visibility was "practically non-existent" between the Lower and Upper peninsulas.
For updates on travel conditions to the Straits, tune to AM radio 530 or 1610.
The weather Tuesday affected land and air travel, forcing back a contingent of lawmakers from Washington, D.C., who were headed to the funeral of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell Jr. in Dearborn. Farther away, authorities in northern Michigan closed the Mackinac Bridge because of the dangerous conditions.
The National Weather Service in Monroe recorded three-tenths of an inch of ice; Wyandotte saw two-tenths.
"There was less ice as you went further north, but that's a pretty significant amount," said Trent Frey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township. "We don't see more than a quarter-inch very often."
A winter weather advisory remains through noon on Wednesday. Snow is expected in Metro Detroit after midnight. Accumulations of up to 2 inches are possible, Frey said.
A wind advisory has been issued through noon Wednesday for Monroe and Lenawee counties, with wind gusts up to 40-45 mph possible.
"The primary threat is heavy snow accumulating on the roads," Frey said. "No more ice, but any areas that did receive ice will have complications through the night."
Hundreds of Michigan schools were closed Tuesday. Power was knocked out to thousands of homes and businesses.
About 30,000 DTE Energy customers were without power Tuesday, down from 40,000 after freezing rain caused trees and tree limbs to fall, bringing down more than 200 power lines. Consumers Energy on Tuesday reported 10,400 outages. Indiana Michigan Power had about 6,000 outages in Michigan. Consumers had all but 150 outages restored early Wednesday.
More power outages could occur with wind gusts up to 45 mph Wednesday.
More than 1,000 DTE employees were working to assess damage and restore power. Support from an additional 200 workers from neighboring companies and utilities had been requested, DTE said.
The sleet, snow and ice left roads slippery, leading one driver on Interstate 696 sliding into a Michigan State Police trooper's patrol vehicle. Officials said the crash happened at about 1:20 p.m. near Novi.
Flooding shut northbound Interstate 75 at Eight Mile in Detroit, and officials said a downed power line closed northbound Interstate 275 at Interstate 94.
Eastbound and westbound Eight Mile at Groesbeck closed before rush hour Tuesday due to a derailed train, Michigan State Police said.
The Upper Peninsula was expected to get the largest snow accumulations, with up to 12 inches forecast.
Extended forecast for Metro Detroit
Wednesday: Cloudy; high, 29; low, 24
Thursday: Mostly cloudy; high, 41; low, 31
Friday: Cloudy; high, 35; low, 19
Saturday: Partly sunny; high 28; low 17
Sunday: Cloudy; high of 28; low of 20
Source: National Weather Service
Staff Writer Charles Ramirez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.