Bomb cyclone: Punishing winds to pelt Michigan for 21 hours

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Feb. 23 conditions on the Great Lakes.

Metro Detroit residents braced Sunday against a 'bomb cyclone' that's expected to slam the state with 21 hours of punishing winds before letting up by daybreak Monday.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for all of southeastern Michigan, from Midland County south and all points east, calling for sustained winds of 30-40 mph and gusts as high as 60 mph.

In a special weather forecast issued just after midnight, the NWS said that scattered thunderstorms would end tonight "followed by widespread
damaging wind ramping up Sunday morning and lasting through most of
Sunday night."

The winds, it said, would likely surpass Detroit Metro Airport's ability to land airplanes on its primary runways during the peak hours.

DTE Energy prepared for power outages and downed lines by calling in 300 out-of-state line workers. 

Peak winds could reach 60 mph Sunday.

In an alert, the weather service said the strongest gusts are most likely from the late morning to late afternoon Sunday.

"Our team of meteorologists and operations experts are monitoring weather conditions across our service territory and mobilizing resources to ensure power is restored as quickly and safely as possible," DTE officials said. "More than 1,000 DTE employees and contractors, including line workers and tree trim professionals, are on standby for restoration."

The strongest storms are the ones with the lowest pressure. Areas of low pressure draw wind into them rapidly, said Danny Costello, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township. 

Air then spirals inward towards the center, rises and exits through the top.  If more air is leaving the storm than is sucked inward, the pressure falls even more and the system will continue to grow.

The storm headed to southeast Michigan Sunday is expected to do that. Utilities fear it could rank among the state's most significant wind storms, even comparable to the March 2017 blow that caused more than 800,000 outages.

That storm had a potentially devastating impact on air travel, as a University of Michigan basketball team charter plane aborted takeoff narrowly avoiding the loss of 116 lives. It was determined that an elevator jammed, probably due to the force of winds.

The storm will likely bring down tree limbs, power lines and may lead to scattered power outages. Officials say driving will become hazardous and unsecured outdoor objects will likely be blown around.

The Michigan State Police encourages residents to use caution during strong winds, saying that blowing snow could create dangerous travel with possibly near whiteout conditions statewide.

National Coast Guard Officer Nathan Distelrath said the agency's control center has been monitoring the weather and anything that could arise.

“Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair are mostly covered in ice at this point so waves aren’t a worry but the ice could become pushed and hazardous,” Distelrath said. “Right now, all we can do is monitor the weather like we always do.”

Residents can also prepare to buckle down ahead of the storm and stay informed with safety tips and updates on

Storm tips

Stay at least 20 feet away from all downed power lines and anything the lines are in contact with, and consider them live. Heed the warning of yellow caution tape, which indicates there is a downed power line in the area.

Power and charge up, but never use a portable generator inside a home or business. It emits carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. Keep it outside, away from windows and doors, so the fumes won’t come in.  

Never drive across a downed power line. If a power line falls on your vehicle, remain inside until help arrives. 

Don’t open refrigerators or freezers more often than absolutely necessary. A closed refrigerator will stay cold for 12 hours. Kept closed, a well-filled freezer will preserve food for two days.


Turn off or unplug all appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave on one light switch to indicate when power is restored.

Elderly residents or anyone with a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage should try to make alternative accommodations with family or friends.

During low-voltage conditions — when lights are dim and television pictures are smaller — shut off motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators to prevent overheating and possible damage. Sensitive electronic devices also should be unplugged.

Stay out of flooded or damp basements or other areas if water is in contact with outlets or any electrically-operated appliance. The water or moisture may serve as a conductor of electricity. This can cause serious or even fatal injury.

Assemble an emergency kit. It should include a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and candles, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, bottled water and nonperishable food.

Keep a corded or cell phone on hand because a cordless telephone needs electricity to operate. Also, customers should learn how to manually open automated garage doors.  

Customers who depend on a well for drinking water need to plan ahead on how they will obtain water. Store containers of water for cooking and washing.

Contact DTE when you lose power or see a downed power line: call (800) 477-4747, visit DTE’s website at or by accessing the DTE Energy Mobile App. Additional information is available through the online Power Outage Map at  For Consumers Energy, visit

A large limb from a tree came down on power lines and caused a street light pole to snap and hit this home on Kendal Street after high winds cause damage in Dearborn, Mich. on May 4, 2018.

Extended forecast for Metro Detroit

Sunday: Strong winds with snow and a high of 47, low of 22
Monday: Mostly cloudy. High of 28, low of 15
Tuesday: Mostly cloudy. High of 28, low of 22
Wednesday: Partly sunny. high of 34, low of 19

Source: National Weather Service
Twitter: @SarahRahal_