Thousands of people are without power in Muskegon County today as a winter storm brings high winds, downed trees and freezing rain to the area.
As of 11:30am Thursday, 129,472 customers throughout the state were without power after the storm coated power lines with nearly half an inch of ice across West Michigan, Consumers Energy reported. While Kent County and metro Grand Rapids have sustained much of the damage, there are thousands of customers without power in Muskegon County, according to a Consumers Energy outage map.
In our area, North Muskegon and Fruitport have been hit especially hard, with 1,459 customers currently without power in the Fruitport area and 1,453 customers without power around North Muskegon, according to Consumers Energy. Originally, power was expected to be restored today, but Consumers Energy said at 4:45pm that severe weather is hampering restoration work.
The 129,472 customers affected by the ice storms are expected to have power restored by late Sunday for most areas, with Consumers Energy noting that crews are continuing to work around the clock to address the outages.
“Our crews are working extremely hard in tough conditions to restore power across the state. We greatly appreciate our customers’ patience as we continue to battle Mother Nature,” Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric operations, said in a press release. “Our top priority remains safety for both our customers and employees who are affected by this strong winter storm.”
A half-inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds of additional weight to trees and power lines, Packard said. As a result, some outages may occur immediately while others occur throughout the day as the weight from ice on top of power lines and trees continues to build from extended precipitation and frigid temperatures.
Also, as temperatures warm and the ice thaws on trees, additional outages may occur as tree branches brush power lines while springing up to their original position. Weather conditions also impact the speed of restoration, as crews are taking additional precautions to ensure their safety.
From damage assessors to contact center representatives and lineworkers, more than 1,200 Consumers Energy employees and contractors are engaged in the restoration efforts. An additional 100 mutual assistance personnel have arrived from Kentucky to assist with electric restoration work in West Michigan.
Michigan State Police and Consumers Energy urged the public to keep the following tips in mind:
- Stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines and keep children and pets away. Call 911 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 to report them.
- Be alert to utility crews working along roads. Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely pass workers on roadsides.
- Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement, enclosed patio or near any air intakes. Doing so could cause a generator to produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and deadly gas.
- Call 211 if you are looking for help connecting to temporary shelter or other resources that offer assistance in your community. 211 is a free statewide service.
To receive outage alerts and restoration times sent to a phone or email, text ‘REG’ to 232273 or visit ConsumersEnergy.com/alerts. Customers can also report an outage or check the status of an outage at ConsumersEnergy.com/outagecenter.
A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 7pm Friday in Muskegon, Clinton, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties. Freezing rain will change to rain, and wind gusts may reach as high as 45 miles per hour after 5pm Thursday. Beginning late Thursday night and early Friday morning, snow showers are expected. One to three inches of snow are expected.