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Winter storm could cause flooding, freezing rain, power outages

By: Jonathan Shead | C&G Newspapers | Published January 10, 2020

METRO DETROIT — With severe winter weather and the potential for power outages making its way across the Lower Peninsula this weekend, Michigan State Police and other organizations are recommending residents ready up for what’s to come. 

National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Freitag said areas of Oakland and Macomb counties are predicted to get heavy rain — an average of three inches — during the evening tonight through Saturday night. 

“Unfortunately with that amount of rain here, we are going to have flooding issues and that includes the Clinton River… I imagine people that have flood prone basements will most likely have some issues,” he said. “The other aspect is the potential for freezing rain, but in terms of that it would just potentially sneak into northern Oakland County. We’re not expecting any significant freezing rain impacts to Macomb (County).” 

Freitag said residents may see an increase in strong wind gusts Saturday night through Sunday morning, making power outages a possibility. 

The National Weather Service stated in a news release that areas south of U.S. 10 Highway and north of Interstate 94 are most at risk for ice accumulations. 

Freitag said road closures due to flooding are possible. He and Michigan State Police officials have advised people to stay indoors and avoid traveling if possible. 

“Both flooding and freezing rain have the ability to be life-threatening,” Capt. Emmitt McGowan, commander of the MSP and Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, said in a news release. “Michigan residents should take steps to prepare now. Keeping supplies like a flashlight, a portable radio, and a working cell phone with a backup power source on-hand can help keep you and your family safe during an emergency.”

When preparing for a flood, MSP recommends creating an emergency preparedness kit with enough water to last 3 days — or more if you have pets — put valuables and other important documents in something waterproof on the top floor of your home, double check sump pumps and have a battery backup system if possible, and clear neighborhood storm drains of debris to help mitigate flooded roadways. 

For those who may need to travel, MSP advises people not to attempt driving through a fully flooded road, not to drive around barricades or try to take short cuts, and to be especially cautious driving at night when flood dangers are harder to see.

If a power outage occurs, do not touch downed power lines or any objects that may be connected to them; use battery powered lanterns, instead of candles to luminate homes without power; and avoid actions that can cause higher level of carbon monoxide, including using a generator inside or using your stove to heat your home. 

Other general safety tips during the upcoming winter storm include watching for signs of frostbite or hypothermia, checking on pets and neighbors, and removing ice and snow from all lights, windows and license plates if you will be out driving — which is required by Michigan law. 

The Farmington Hills Costick Activities Center, 28600 W. 11 Mile Road, will be open as a warming center today until 10 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 11-12 for any citizen who needs a warm, safe place to go for shelter. People can reach the Costick Center at (248) 473-1800. 

“My office, along with state departments, will be closely monitoring weather conditions as they develop and proactively coordinating with emergency managers to support local response efforts as appropriate,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a news release. 

Motorists can check travel conditions and weather reports at michigan.gov/roadconditions. Road closures can be found at michigan.gov/drive.