More than half a million customers still without power in Michigan as temperatures plunge

More than half a million homes and businesses remained without power across southern Michigan on Friday night after an ice storm battered the region and officials warned electricity may not return for many until Sunday.

On the other side of the country, forecasters said a storm was set to drench Southern California and pummel higher elevations with blizzard conditions and heavy snowfall.

Flooding, downed trees and damaged power lines were likely into Saturday morning as the storm moves across the state, the National Weather Service said. 

A plow clears snow on Mount Baldy Road in the town of Mount Baldy, California, on February 24, 2023. - Californians more used to flip flops and shorts were wrapping up warm Thursday as a rare winter blizzard, the first in more than 30 years, loomed over Los Angeles, even as the US East Coast basked in summer-like temperatures.
A plow clears snow on Mount Baldy Road in the town of Mount Baldy, Calif., on Friday.Allison Dinner / AFP – Getty Images

In Michigan, nearly 600,000 utility customers were in the dark Friday, with outages reported from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie, according to Across much of the region, temperatures were expected to dip into the 20s overnight and plunge into the teens with the wind chill, the National Weather Service said.

Light snow was expected in much of the area, the agency said.

In Lansing, city officials initiated a “code blue” cold weather response plan, with libraries, community centers and other buildings repurposed as warming centers. In Lenawee County, county officials also opened warming centers and the Red Cross was operating a 24-hour shelter.

Officials told Kalamazoo residents to prevent frozen pipes by opening cabinets around their plumbing and running a “pencil-lead sized” stream of water from a faucet if their indoor temperature plummeted below 32 degrees.

In Jackson, south of Lansing, resident George Ellis was outside cooking on a gas-powered grill while a generator provided enough power to keep a refrigerator and a space heater running, NBC affiliate WILX of Lansing reported.  

When the station asked how he and his wife were doing, he responded with a single word: cold.

Garrick Rochow, chief executive of the state’s largest utility, Consumers Energy, said Friday that the majority of the company’s customers would see their power restored by Sunday. Rochow described the utility’s response as “all hands on deck,” saying that 540 crews were working across the state.

Detroit-based DTE Energy President Trevor Lauer estimated that 95% of that utility’s homes and businesses will also have electricity by Sunday.

Speaking to reporters, Lauer described the major winter storm that walloped the area as “historic” and compared the quarter-inch of ice that fell on the electrical system to a “baby grand piano hanging on those wires.”

Warmer weather is forecast to return this weekend, with temperatures expected to top 40 degrees Sunday.

In California, millions of people were under weather alerts as a major winter storm hit the state with snow, rain and plunging temperatures.

San Francisco saw its lowest temperature on record Friday — 39 degrees, while parts of Northern California that rarely see snow reported several inches or more between Thursday and Friday, according to the weather service.

In Southern California, the first blizzard warning ever issued by the National Weather Service’s San Diego office remained in effect until Saturday afternoon. The same warning was issued for the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties for the first time since 1989, the weather service said.

As of 5:23 p.m. local time, between 3 and 6 inches of rain had fallen in parts of Santa Barbara and southern Ventura counties, with more rain forecast and flash flooding described as imminent. A flash flood warning remained in effect until 10 p.m.

The storm is expected to arrive in the Central High Plains by Sunday night, the weather service said.

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