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Detroit matches record-high 97 degrees; storms pass, outages linger

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Record-high temperatures and the threat of severe storms provided a one-two punch for Metro Detroit on Saturday, though Sunday is expected to offer some relief.

The National Weather Service said Detroit reached a high of 97 degrees Saturday, tying the record set on July 20, 1977. Although it was predicted to be warm overnight, Sunday's high is expected to reach only about 80 degrees.

The excessive heat warning expired for Southeast Michigan's 11 counties at 8 p.m. Saturday, though the NWS issued severe weather warnings for Genessee, Livingston, eastern Tuscola, Sanilac, northern Lapeer and Oakland counties until Saturday evening, but some were canceled early as storms weakened.

However, thunderstorms were expected to continue through Saturday night, mainly along the south of the Interstate 94 corridor.

Additionally, heavy rain already had led to flash flooding in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Pickney, Howell, Milford and Woodhaven this weekend, NWS storm reports show.

Al Beachum of Royal Oak lets his daughter CeCe fly through the cool water at Red Oaks Waterpark in Madison Heights on Friday.

Consumers Energy said in a release Saturday night that more than 1,400 employees were engaged in restoration efforts, including about 120 workers from out-of-state energy providerrs.

As of 9 p.m. Saturday, approximately 137,000 Consumers customers remained without service due in part to a second wave of thunderstorms that rolled through southeast Michigan. Officials say more than 1,500 downed wires have been attributed to the storms so far. Consumers also said its aiming to restore power to all affected customers by the end of the day Tuesday.

After severe thunderstorms swept across southeast Michigan Friday night, 227,000 people were without power in southeast Michigan. Most of the outages were in Washtenaw and Livingston counties, with large clusters near Hartland, Green Oak Township, Keego Harbor and Ann Arbor. That made it a good day to head to the mall or watch the new "Lion King" in theaters.

More: Storms leave 227K without power in Metro Detroit

Southeast Michigan was sitting on the northern edge of an intense "heat dome," a high-pressure zone that trapped heat. The conditions are the result of the dome hovering over the eastern two-thirds of the nation.

Children beat the heat at Warren Civic Center fountains as high temperatures hit the metro Detroit area on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

More than 100 local heat records were expected to fall Saturday across the country, according to the National Weather Service. Most weren't expected to be record-daily highs but record-high nighttime lows, when blistering temperatures during the day typically fall enough at night for a little relief.

The excessive heat alert is triggered when hot temperatures and high humidity combine to create a situation in which heat-related illnesses are possible, officials said.

"Heatstroke and exhaustion become a serious concern under these conditions," the weather service said. "The hot and humid air will create dangerous conditions, particularly for the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions."

Those moving around outside are urged to:

  • Wear light-colored clothes
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Stay out of the sun
  • Avoid unnecessary work or activities outside or in a building without air conditioning

National Weather Service meteorologists were tracking strong to severe thunderstorms heading through Michigan Saturday evening, although some seemed to be weakening.

"It's possible to get some torrential rainfall, but we don't think it's going to be anything like the magnitude of (Friday)," said Kevin Klein, a meteorologist wih the weather service in White Lake Township. "There is a chance for some scattered severe storms, but when those do come through, it'll help us cool down a bit."

Klein said Sunday will include some rumbles of thunder and showers, "but nothing like what we've seen so far." 

DTE expected to restore power to 90% of its customers without power by the end of Saturday. Consumers said it could be a multi-day operation to restore power.

If storms knock out power, stay at least 25 feet away from any downed power lines. Customers can visit the online outage map, report an outage and sign up to receive power restoration updates at Consumers Online Outage Center and DTE Energy's Outage Map.

The best way to report an outage is to use the DTE Energy app or call (800) 477-4747. 

Safety tips

The heat has led AAA Michigan to offer safety tips. It urges drivers to check their battery, engine coolant and fluids, tires and air conditioning to help their cars survive the temperatures.

Children beat the heat at Warren Civic Center fountains as high temperatures hit the metro Detroit area on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

It also asks motorists to make sure children aren't left in their vehicles, which can heat up within minutes and lead to heatstroke. In 2018, 52 children across the country died from heatstroke in hot cars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Humane Society of the United States also urges pet owners to protect their companions by:

  • Adjusting intensity and limiting the duration of exercise if they must go out
  • Keeping dogs' temperatures below 104 degrees
  • Providing ample shade and water
  • Using a cooling body wrap, vest or mat
  • Removing dogs — any pet — from vehicles, even for a short span; a vehicle's temperature can rise more than 20 degrees in 10 minutes, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Authorities urge observers to call 911 if they see children or pets left in vehicles on hot days. 

To help residents beat the heat, numerous Metro Detroit communities have opened cooling centers.

Detroit police are also transporting homeless to cooling centers and conducting wellness checks on homebound seniors Saturday.

  • Detroit has multiple cooling centers, including the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Other sites are listed on the city's website.
  • Taylor has stations at the Taylor Sportsplex, 13333 Telegraph, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 2-10 p.m. Sunday.
  • Warren has three cooling centers open 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Saturday: the Fitzgerald Center, 4355 E. Nine Mile; the Owen Jax Center, 8207 E. Nine Mile; and the Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden.
  • Dearborn's Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., is open as a cooling center 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
  • Westland has cooling centers at its police station lobby, 36701 Ford Road, and Fire Station 1, 35710 Central City Parkway, both open 24 hours; Fire Station 3, 28801 Annapolis, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; Jefferson Barns Community Vitality Center, 32150 Dorsey, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; William P. Faust Public Library, 6123 Central City Parkway, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
  • Centers in Macomb County include the Clinton-Macomb Main Library, 40900 Romeo Plank Road, Clinton Township, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and the Eastpointe Memorial Library, 15875 Oak, noon-5 p.m. Saturday. A full list is available on the county website.

Cooler temperatures arrive next week

The good news is that the heatwave is temporary and will abate early next week.

Sunday: Sunny with a high of 79 and a low of 64 and thunderstorm overnight 

Monday: Sunny with a high of 73 and low of 59 with possible thunderstorms

Tuesday: Mostly sunny with a high of 78 and low of 58

Wednesday: Partly sunny with a high of 81 and low of 60

Twitter: @SarahRahal_