GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Storms swept through West Michigan Monday afternoon, prompting several severe thunderstorm warnings and causing tens of thousands of power outages.
The storm brought down power lines and trees around the region — including one on a home near Holland — and caused a plane at Three Rivers Municipal Airport to flip upside down.
Consumers said about 175,000 customers overall were affected and it had restored service to about 70,000 of them within the first 24 hours after the storms. With nearly 400 crews on the job, about half of affected customers were expected to have power back by the end of the day Tuesday and most of the remainder by the end of Wednesday.
“We’ll be working around the clock … overnight and into tomorrow as well to get the power back on for every last customer,” Josh Paciorek, a spokesman for the Jackson-based utility, told News 8.
Consumers said some 2,000 power lines came down across the Lower Peninsula.
“The damage was widespread,” Paciorek said. “The first step in the restoration process is having our team members, having our crews go out and assess the damage: Where to do we need to be? What areas are going to be quick restoration areas? What areas are going to require a little bit more time?”
Repairs that restore power for the largest number of people at once are placed at the top of the to-do list.
Paciorek said Consumers did not need to call for help from crews in other states, which it does when there are huge numbers of outages. Pleasant weather Tuesday also meant that repair efforts could continue unimpeded.
Consumers Energy will host an event on Tuesday to give affected customers in the Kalamazoo area free ice cream. The event will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Schultz’s Treat Street at 3023 Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo.
A power outage caused Caledonia High School to release at noon Tuesday. Lunch was still being offered and school buses were called to take students home. The district said Consumers was working to fix a power pole, which caused the service disruption. Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo, Cooper Elementary in Plainwell and Wayland Union Schools were also closed due to outages.
Most of West Michigan was under an enhanced or slight risk (ranked 3 and 2 out of 5, respectively, on the risk scale) of severe storms. If you compare the risk area and the power outages map they align quite well.
This was one of the more significant severe events this summer in a season that has not had many. There were 327 reports of severe across the Midwest and 97% were wind related.
The storms crossed over several airports that have reliable anemometers and the wind gusts ranges from 70 mph at the Detroit Airport to 58 mph in Battle Creek and the Gerald R. Ford International in Grand Rapids. The strongest gust in West Michigan was reported at West Michigan Regional Airport a couple miles south of Holland.
The severe weather threat has shifted to the extreme eastern Great Lakes and will not be as intense.
We get to look forward to a string of beautiful days with sunshine and pleasant conditions through Friday. The chance of rain will increase a bit this holiday weekend.
The only hazards that remains Tuesday will be any downed trees and power lines and at the lakeshore. A beach hazards statement and small craft advisory are in effect for Mason, Oceana, Muskegon, Ottawa, Allegan, and Van Buren counties through Tuesday evening for waves of 3 to 5 feet.
—News 8’s Brennan Prill, Rachel Van Gilder and Michael Oszust contributed to this report.