February 23, 2019

NOAA: Severe icing and high winds possible this week

Consumers Energy warns of possibility of outages

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NORTHERN MICHIGAN — National Weather Service Meteorologists are warning Northern Michigan residents of severe conditions that could be ripe for power outages throughout this week.

NOAA Gaylord Post Meteorologist Tim Locker said Northern Michigan residents can expect to see significant ice accumulation due to freezing rain beginning the evening of Feb. 5 and continuing through the morning of Feb. 7. In addition, high wind speeds in excess of 30 mph are expected beginning late Thursday through Friday.

Locker said the combination of these conditions are prime for power outages.

“We have anywhere from one- to two-tenths of an inch of ice accumulation,” he said. “That’s severe. Anything over a quarter of an inch qualifies as an ice storm.”

Consumers Energy Media Representative Debra Dodd said these conditions are some of the worst the company deals with.

“Any time you get significant icing on our lines, and on trees that could fall on those, we expect outages,” she said. “Ice is one of the worst things we could have on our power lines.”

Dodd said residents should take action to prepare themselves for outages that could last days.

“Be prepared,” she said. “Charge all of your electronics, have at least three-days worth of medications, food and water in case there is an extended outage.”

Dodd was unable to point out specific areas that might be hit the hardest, but said a “large swath” of the state, including Arenac, Ogemaw and Oscoda counties, will be significantly impacted. She said the company is asking residents to be wary until at least Saturday.

Dodd said Consumers has not been caught off-guard by the coming conditions and the company is working with meteorologists to prepare for the worst.

“Our crews have mobilized,” she said. “We look at the areas that could be most impacted and make sure all of our resources there are lined up.”

While this weather is expected to be severe, Locker said it is common to see similar conditions this time of year. He said with that in mind, it is still important for residents to only leave the house if it is imperative as road conditions will be less than optimal. In addition, Locker said residents also need to be wary of flooding if they live near rivers or streams. He said recent ice accumulation combined with the coming rain could cause bodies of water to overflow.

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