Potentially ‘crippling’ ice storm could knock out power across Michigan

How to prepare for extended power outages

DETROIT – A dangerous winter storm will hit Michigan this weekend, with potentially “crippling” ice levels that could impact parts of Michigan for days.

The major concerns for ice are in our North Zone (North of M-59) and into Mid-Michigan and West Michigan. A half inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds to a span of power lines.

Here’s the latest from the Local 4Casters:

Rain becomes heavy on Saturday with thunderstorms possible, but a potent cold front crossing the area during the morning will drop temperatures from those 50s to or a little below freezing generally north of I-696. The farther north you are, especially north of M-59, the quicker the resulting changeover to freezing rain, and the heavier your ice accumulation will be.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect Saturday through Sunday morning for these areas, as ice thicknesses could be near one-half inch, which would be a crippling ice storm. Regardless of the timing of your change to ice, 2-to-3 inches of rain is likely, with widespread flood concerns across our area. If you have a basement and live in a flood prone area, you should strongly consider moving important items in your basement either to a higher floor, or onto tables.

West and Mid-Michigan

NWS: A major winter storm is expected to start tonight and last through daybreak Sunday. Significant accumulations of snow, sleet, ice, and rain are expected with power outages and dangerous travel conditions.

Much of the area will experience impactful freezing rain on Saturday, and the highest risk for significant ice accumulations in excess of one half inch looks to be in a corridor from Hastings to Lansing to Flint.

NWS Ice Map. (Grand Rapids) (WDIV)

Be prepared for power outages

Ice anywhere near half an inch is likely to cause widespread power outages across the state.

Prepare for an outage:

  • Assemble an emergency kit in advance
  • Battery-powered radio or television (the news media will provide updates on when electricity will be restored)
  • Flashlights or battery-operated lanterns
  • Extra batteries
  • Candles with holders
  • Matches
  • Bottled water
  • Manual can opener
  • Nonperishable food
  • Disposable plates and utensils
  • Wind-up or battery-powered clock
  • Corded telephone (cordless phones don’t work when the power goes out and your cell phone may not work if cell towers are affected)

Make a List of Emergency Phone Numbers

  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy. Include DTE Energy’s toll-free number, 800.477.4747. Call this number and use our automated system to report power outages or downed power lines.
  • You may also report a power problem online from a location that has power or by using the DTE Energy Mobile App to report an outage from your mobile device.

During and Extended Power Outage

Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy. Unplug all motor-driven appliances (refrigerators and freezers), heat-producing appliances (stoves, curling irons, etc.) and sensitive electronic equipment (televisions, stereos and computers) to minimize the danger of fire and to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave one light on so you’ll know when power is restored.Keep refrigerator, freezer and cooler doors closed as much as possible. If power will be out for a long time, contact a dry ice distributor. Find a local dry ice distributor in your phone book or online.

Here is the forecast for the winter storm.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.