Midwest storms leave 850K customers without power as region braces for more severe weather

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DETROIT — Storms swept through Wednesday leaving more than 850,000 customer in the Midwest without power, according to data from Poweroutage.us, with the most residents in the dark in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Illinois.

On Wednesday evening in Michigan, more than 400,000 DTE customers and more than 200,000 Consumers Energy customers throughout the state were reportedly without power. By 8 p.m. Wednesday, each company had dispatched hundreds of power restoration crews. 

Heavy rains and 60 mph winds damaged more than 2,000 power lines, DTE said in a news release. Teams will be working 16-hour shifts around-the-clock to restore power, as the company brings in 1,000 additional line workers from out of state to help with restoration efforts. DTE customers can expect a more accurate restoration estimate once a crew has been assigned to their outage, DTE said. 

According to a statement on the Consumers Energy website, more than 200,000 customers were left without power after a powerful storm on Tuesday night. With Wednesday's storms and more turbulent weather forecast for Thursday, the company is also bringing in additional crews from out of state to assist in restoring power. 

Consumers Energy customers without power can expect to have it restored by the end of the day Friday, although additional storms could delay restoration into the weekend, the company said. 

Metro Detroit could see more severe weather overnight between 9 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday, said Megan Varcie, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Detroit/Pontiac weather forecast office. 

Since these storms will be coming late in the evening and overnight, it's important to have several ways to receive warnings, Varcie said.

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There will be a marginal risk for severe weather on Thursday, with a risk of damaging winds and hail, but those storms will be more isolated than Wednesday's storms, Varcie said.

Milwaukee residents on Wednesday cleaned up from one major thunderstorm in the August heat while preparing for the next one. Thankfully, the worst of Wednesday's storms missed the Milwaukee area.

As of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, about 85,000 customers were still without power.

The situation was made more urgent by the forecast. Meteorologists expected Wednesday evening's storms to pack a punch as well, but those storms largely missed the Milwaukee area.

Around 6 p.m., a line of severe storms in western Wisconsin was moving slowly eastward, bringing a risk of tornadoes, hail and damaging winds. Additional thunderstorms were developing ahead of the line in the southern portions of Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, and afternoon storms in northeast Wisconsin had already produced at least three tornadoes, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service.

Compounding the issue, roughly 100,000 customers in southeast Wisconsin spent the day without power — and without air conditioning. The weather service projected heat indices would top 100 degrees. Officials opened cooling centers and reminded the public how to stay safe in the heat.

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More than 85,000 northern Ohioans remained without power Wednesday night as a series of severe thunderstorms pummeled the area, knocking down trees with 80 mph winds. Though Wednesday night was relatively quiet, another band of storms is currently forming and will move into the region Thursday, said the weather service in Cleveland.

"Damaging winds will be the primary weather hazard," they wrote. "Heavy rainfall with these thunderstorms may also lead to localized flooding."

And upwards of 35,000 Illinois residents were still without power around midnight Wednesday due to the storms speeding through the Chicago area overnight Tuesday at at least 70 mph.

Residents in Evanston, Illinois, and Plainfield, Illinois, reported extensive tree damage. In Evanston, there were reports of malfunctioning street lights, traffic signals and street flooding, National Weather Service meteorologist Ricky Castro told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The weather service said a survey crew had confirmed Tuesday that at least seven tornadoes touched down Monday in northern Illinois.

A heat advisory remains in effect across north-central Illinois, northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana until Wednesday night, when the weather service said more severe weather is possible in that region.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Fierce summer storms leave over 850K in Midwest without electricity

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