Diminishing winds give crews respite to restore power outages

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Crews working overnight and into Monday morning to restore power after high winds are being aided by calmer conditions, utility officials say.

About 370,000  DTE Energy and Consumers Energy customers in lower Michigan were hit by power outages Sunday after high winds blew down trees, limbs and power lines, but repair crews had worked to pare the outages to about 147,000  by about 11 a.m., the utilities said. That's down from about 175,000 customers who were without electricity at 6 a.m.

DTE Energy officials said they expect to restore service to 90% of customers without power by the end of Tuesday, with the vast majority of customers restored by end of Wednesday.  

A DTE Energy worker repairs powerline damage Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, near 14 Mile in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Tree and power service workers continue repairs after high winds and storms brought down trees and powerlines causing outages in southeast Michigan.

On the outage map on its web site, Consumers Energy said crews are working around the clock and it expects restoration work to continue through late Tuesday.

Wind warnings and advisories for southeast Michigan expired overnight.

“Today’s weather will be breezy, but much better than Sunday, which will assist in restoration,” said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric operations. 

The National Weather Service office in White Lake Township reported a gust of 52 mph just before 1:53 p.m., with frequent gusts of 40 mph and higher through much of the afternoon. Romulus reported a gust of 61 mps at Detroit Metro Airport.

And in Farmington Hills, lightning reportedly struck a tree, sending splintered wood onto the road.

Counties included in the Sunday high-wind warning included Midland, Bay, Saginaw, Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee and Monroe. 

Many southeast Michigan communities have been affected, but Hadley in Lapeer County, Bell Oak and Williamstown Township in Ingham County, and Four Towns in Oakland County were hard hit. 

"During the fall and winter months, to get winds this strong usually only happens maybe once or twice a season," said Ian Lee, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

A tree lies in pieces after being hit by lightning on North Park Road in Farmington Hills, November 15, 2020.

On Michigan's first day of open season for deer hunting Sunday, the weather service had advised people to avoid forested areas and trees and branches, due to strong winds that could knock trees down. 

“We remind deer hunters taking to the woods and fields (Monday) to be on the lookout for storm damage, including downed wires, and be aware that our crews may be working nearby," Packard said.