Flooding, power outages possible in Metro Detroit this weekend
Detroit — Flooding and power outages are anticipated as southeastern Michigan is expected to see rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
"It'll be a heavy rain event for the southern part of the region," said Kyle Klein, a meteorologist at the weather service's office in White Lake Township. "We're looking at 2-3 inches of rain spread over Friday through Sunday morning."
The weather service issued an ice storm warning for northern Livingston and Oakland counties as well as Lapeer and Genesee counties. An advisory is in effect for Macomb and St. Clair counties, said meteorologist Steven Freitag.
The warning and advisory take effect at 4 a.m. Saturday and run through 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
Temperatures are expected to bounce between the 40s and low 30s over the weekend. The high may reach 48 degrees Friday and 46 degrees Saturday but then fall to 34 degrees Sunday. The low is expected to fall to 41 degrees Friday, 31 degrees Saturday and 26 degrees Sunday.
Klein said a warm front Friday is bringing an initial wave of rain and then a cold front is expected to follow Friday's warmer temperatures. Farther north, the area might see much colder weather, he said.
"There could be some freezing rain over the area between Saginaw Bay and the Thumb," Klein said. "There's some uncertainty to the exact track of the storm. If it tracks further south, then that could bring some of that freezing rain to the M-59 corridor."
Accompanying the rain and ice will be gusty winds and heavy snow in northern Michigan and near the top of the Thumb.
Consumers Energy is warning customers that freezing rain forecast for Saturday “will likely lead to downed wires and power outages that could last several days.”
Freezing rain is expected to begin across much of south-central Michigan Saturday morning and continue for several hours, the Jackson-based utility said. As much as one-half to 1 inch of ice accumulation is possible in a general area from Interstate 94 north to U.S. 10, it said.
A half-inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds to a span of power lines, Consumers said.
Debra Dodd, a spokeswoman for Consumers, said the company has been gearing up for the stormy weather all week and has employees and contractors within the state ready to go.
Crews, she said, will be in at 6 a.m. with packed bags and ready to travel to the hardest-hit areas of the state. Consumers expects the middle section of the state will see the worst of the weather and the ice is the most worrisome.
"Our biggest fear is the icing issue," she said. "It weighs down our wires, trees and tree limbs ... that's what we're most concerned about right now. If we do get that kind of ice, it's going to make travel treacherous."
Consumers crews, she added, will be working 16-hour shifts, seven days per week to restore service.
"We know how frustrating it is to be without power but if this is the kind of devastating storm that we think it is, we just appreciate our customers' patience," Dodd said.
DTE Energy officials also have additional resources on standby to quickly restore power, if necessary.
"We are encouraging all our customers to be safe," DTE said in a Friday news release, warning customers to keep an eye out for basement flooding and electric hazards and to stay at least 20 feet away from all power lines and avoid using portable generators inside homes or businesses.
Warren is among the communities preparing for the storms, clearing drains, checking pumps and approving staff overtime to deal with the potential damage and flooding.
Mayor Jim Fouts, in a statement provided Friday, warned that the storm "may be the worst one in years."
The city, he said, has purchased higher-pressure pumps to curb street and basement flooding in certain areas.
"I have emphasized that we will spare no cost to protect Warren residents from flooded basements and streets. We will not skimp on overtime," Fouts said. "We have our staff on standby ready to tackle this storm whenever it rears its ugly head."
The Wayne County Department of Public Services and Health, Human and Veterans Services is urging residents to be careful should the rainfall result in flooding on freeways or in residential basements.
"Motorists should avoid flooded roads," said Public Services director Bev Watts in a statement. "It's difficult to gauge how deep floodwaters are, and it's just not worth the risk to the health of you or your vehicle."
Anyone with questions on flooding contamination or cleanup may call the environmental health division at (734) 727-7400.
Detroit's average monthly precipitation in January is about 1.96 inches, according to the weather service's records. As of Wednesday, the area has received about .13 of an inch of precipitation since Jan. 1.
The area also usually gets an average of about 12.5 inches of snow for the month. So far this month, about 1.8 inches of snow has fallen in Detroit.
The normal average high temperature for January in Detroit is 32 degrees and the low is 19.1 degrees.
People who live in flood-prone areas should keep an eye out for flooding.
Meanwhile, the weather service issued a lakeshore flood warning for St. Clair, Bay, Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties, including Harsens Island, Anchor Bay and Harrison Township.
The warning, which runs from 7 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday, warns that northeast winds will increase Saturday, pushing the flow of water onto shore and could cause significant flooding. The agency says low-lying areas along Saginaw Bay are particularly susceptible.
Friday: Rain; high 48, low 41.
Saturday: Rain; high 46, low 31.
Sunday: Cloudy; high 34, low 26.
Monday: Mostly cloudy; high 41, low 32.
Tuesday: Mostly cloudy; high 46, low 34.
Wednesday: Partly sunny; high 42.
Source: National Weather Service