By Pat Maurer
Two back to back storms hit the State in less than a week causing widespread damage and accidents.
Thunderstorms followed by high winds battered Michigan on Christmas Eve causing widespread power outages. Just four days later, snow, sleet and freezing rain added to the state’s woes, causing hazardous driving conditions, widespread accidents, and more power outages, just as the restoration was ending from the first blast.
Nearly 6,400 Clare County customers were among the 150,000 Consumers customers reported without power due to the storm which blasted the state with winds gusting to 60 miles per hour in the early morning hours December 24.
A December 24 news release from Consumers Energy said, “Since 2 p.m. Wednesday, over 135,000 customers have been affected, first by a line of thunderstorms followed by high winds. As of 11:30 a.m. Thursday, over 105,000 homes and businesses were without power.” More than 100 crews were working in the northern part of the state with more crews coming in from the south, they said.
Continued calm weather allowed significant progress Friday on restoration from the Christmas Eve windstorm which knocked out power to Consumers Energy customers across Lower Michigan.
Clare County Emergency Management Director Jerry Becker reported that a total of 6,370 without power here on Friday morning which was down to 2,224 homes still “in the dark” at 11 a.m. Saturday. By Sunday, the number was down to 675.
Mecosta County had 2,469 customers out of power Christmas Eve while the number in Gladwin County was 3,389 and in Isabella County, 1,170. Roscommon County had 9,685 without power and Midland 2,782.
On Monday, December 28, the State was blasted again as freezing rain, sleet and snow complicated by more high winds were reported across lower Michigan making roads and highways nearly impassable.
Freezing rain in the lower half of the mitten led to sleet and snow as the storm moved north. Wind gusts were estimated at 40 to 50 miles per hour before the storm tapered off Tuesday. Further north the snow came first.
Clare County was hit by 4-6 inches of blowing snow, then sleet Monday evening. Rising temperatures brought freezing rain to the area leading to rutted tracks on the roads.
Eight to twelve inches were forecast for the northern tip of the State.
Governor Snyder closed all state offices in the Lower Peninsula at 1 p.m. Monday because of the expected severe weather. Snyder made the announcement on Twitter shortly before one.
The state’s Emergency Operations Center was also activated.
Clare County offices also closed in the early afternoon, with announcements made on social media.
Warmer temperatures Tuesday afternoon led to the snow melting.