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Winter storm brings thundersnow, airport closure, and more power outages

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A winter storm knocked out power to sections of southeast Michigan Friday as utility crews were still working on restoring service interrupted by the last two storms.

DTE Energy reported more than to 200,000 homes and businesses without power Friday night. Consumers Energy reported about 25,000 customers without power.

Friday's outages came on the heels of calls by a string of elected officials for tighter regulation of the utility companies after more than 700,000 customers in Michigan lost power in a storm less than two weeks ago. About 25,000 of those customers remained without electricity for at least a week.

On Saturday morning, DTE Electric President Trevor Lauer apologized for the outages. "Look, this isn't the experience that we want for our customers, and all I can do is apologize on behalf of the company," he said at a news conference.

Snow coats a pedestrian crossing sign in Ann Arbor.
Mike Perini
Michigan Radio
Snow coats a pedestrian crossing sign in Ann Arbor.

Lauer said the utility was "investing heavily" in its infrastructure. "We need to speed that up and continue to invest in our system. We have one of the largest electrical systems in the country and also one of the oldest ones. We need to continue to invest in it and make it more resilient for our customers going forward," he said.

Friday's storm also closed the Detroit Metropolitan Airport temporarily and prompted authorities to issue an advisory that road travel was "treacherous to near impossible."

The city of Dearborn declared a "snow emergency" Friday, and Ann Arbor urged people to stay off the roads "due to extremely hazardous driving conditions within the city limits."

"The majority of local roads are or may become impassible," the advisory from Ann Arbor said.

The National Weather Service predicted several more inches of snow would fall in southeast Michigan Friday night. The agency reported a phenomenon called "thundersnow" at its Detroit offices. Thundersnow is the thunder and lightning that can happen when a snow storm system meets a warm front.

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are among Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

Brett joined Michigan Public in December 2021 as an editor.