Ice storm, strong winds leave hundreds of thousands of Michiganders without power
A major ice storm coupled with strong winds took down branches and trees overnight has left hundreds of thousands of people without power.
At 7 a.m. Thursday, Consumers Energy reported more than 195,000 customers without electricity. DTE Energy's outage map showed more than 460,000 customers without power.
By 7 p.m., DTE was reporting more than 500,000 customers without power — though the company said it had restored power to more than 100,000 other customers since the start of the storm.
Consumers Energy said it had restored power to more than 47,000 homes and businesses Thursday evening, with just under 200,000 still in the dark.
A half-inch of ice covering a wire “is the equivalent of having a baby grand piano on that single span of wire, so the weight is significant,” said Matt Paul, executive vice president of distribution operations for Detroit-based DTE Electric.
The storm, one in a series that was expected to pummel the country through the week, sowed chaos coast to coast. At one point Wednesday, more than 65 million people in more than two dozen states were under weather alerts.
Many Michigan school districts closed for a second straight day Thursday because of the ice storm. They include the public schools in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and the West Ottawa schools.
Eastern Michigan University and Western Michigan University both closed. The University of Michigan-Flint announced it would be closed Thursday morning and reopen at noon. Grand Valley State University went to a remote operations schedule.
Kent County announced most government offices would be closed Thursday, including a meal program for seniors.
The 17th Circuit Court and 63rd District Court are closed.
About 90 churches in western Michigan canceled Ash Wednesday services, WZZM-TV reported.
Weather also contributed to nearly 1,800 U.S. flight cancellations, according to the tracking service FlightAware. Another 6,000-plus flights were delayed across the country.
DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are among Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.