Storm lashes southern Michigan, 30,000 without power

Reuters News
Posted: May 30, 2011 1:48 PM
Storm lashes southern Michigan, 30,000 without power

DETROIT (Reuters) - Residents of southern Michigan were cleaning up on Monday after a violent storm ripped through the region, leaving at least 30,000 people without power, authorities said.

The Sunday storm hit northern Illinois with heavy rains and lightning, canceling at least 400 flights at Chicago airports, before raking a stretch of southern Michigan from Kalamazoo to Detroit. No deaths or injuries were reported, officials said.

The storm's 60-mile-per-hour winds drove heavy rain, uprooted hundreds of trees, ripped the roofs off buildings, and twisted billboards in and around Battle Creek, a city of 50,000 about 120 miles west of Detroit.

"As of right now we are going around taking trees off of houses, clearing out roadways, and pushing all of the debris aside so emergency vehicles can get to people who need it," said Tyler Upston, 24, who owns a landscaping business in Battle Creek. "Tomorrow we will start the full clean up."

About 34,000 people were still without power in Battle Creek's Calhoun County on Monday and "a significant number of Michigan residents are without power throughout the area hit by the storm," said Bob Dukesherer, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"The storm was racing and moving over 50 miles per hour at times and with that forward speed it comes up on you very quickly," Dukesherer said.

Upston was at a friend's lake house as the storm swept in.

"It looked like a huge blanket coming across the sky," Upston said. "The rain was coming harder than hard. Everything was kicking up. Scrubs and trees were flying everywhere. Lawn chairs were flying from one neighbor's house to another."

Skies on Monday were clear in the Midwest from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico as hot, humid air pushed temperatures into the low 90 degree range, forecasters said.

But they warned that conditions for possible severe thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes could return on Monday night in the central Plains and upper Midwest.

(Reporting by Eric Johnson; Editing by Peter Bohan)