Around 12,000 DTE Energy customers, mostly in Oakland County, lost power Tuesday as a wave of heavy thunderstorms blew through southeast Michigan.
Winds gusting between 60-75 miles per hour were expected Tuesday. A Tornado Watch was in effect for all of Southeast Michigan until 6 p.m. and a High Wind Warning continues until 9 p.m.
A DTE spokesman said the power outages were due to the high winds — which caused downed trees and power lines. Crews were out working to restore the power Tuesday afternoon. An estimated restoration time was not given.
In western Michigan, Consumers Energy reported 14,500 outages Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier Tuesday, spokesman Scott Simon told WWJ Newsradio 950 that the utility has crews were already standby, prepared for any power outages or downed power lines. He said customers can do their part, as well.
“Make sure that the power line that extends from the pole to their home or business is clear of any large branches, because what happens in a storm is if those power lines are knocked down, because it serves just one customer, they’re the last on the priority list,” Simon told WWJ Newsradio 950.
Simon said DTE Energy has had 15 severe weather outbreaks so far this year; that’s double what they had last year.
An Ambassador Bridge spokesman said construction workers were pulled off the span as the Detroit area got hit with powerful winds. Phil Frame said the ongoing bridge deck replacement project was being suspended for the day out of concern for their safety. The two-year project that began in July is expected to resume Wednesday.
The Red Cross of Southeastern Michigan said crews were on standby to deal with an emergency.
“We alerted all of our teams, volunteer and paid, to be on standby, and they’re responding to their vehicles. We are involved with Monroe, Saint Clair, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. So, right now we are on full alert and standby to help people if they need it,” said Red Cross spokesman Glenn Hendrix.
Handrix said they are prepared to help families with food, shelter and clothing in case of a tornado or other disaster.
Spotters with the National Weather Service reported tree branches and power lines down across in West Michigan’s Mecosta County, near Big Rapids. Holland and East Grand Rapids Public Schools were among several west Michigan schools were closed due to a tornado watch.
Wind speeds topped 35 mph on the Mackinac Bridge. Traffic continued to cross, but escorts were given to high-profile vehicles such as large trucks, school buses and vehicles towing trailers.
Some flights were canceled to the high winds. More on this.
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