Detroit snow breaks records, topples power lines, creates flooding risk

Detroit snow record: A spring storm broke Detroit's 133-year-old record for snowfall totals: This winter, Detroit got 94.8 inches of snow, topping the previous record from 1880-1881 by more than an inch.

Paul Sancya/AP
A stop sign is covered in snow in Detroit, Tuesday, April 15, 2014. A spring storm left roads slippery across Michigan and shattered seasonal snowfall records in Detroit and Flint.

 A spring storm shattered seasonal snowfall records in Detroit and Flint, as melting snow and rising rivers from heavy rain threatened homes Tuesday.

The snow came after a weather roller coaster Monday, with rivers overflowing their banks and hundreds of thousands of people losing power. Mid-70s temperatures in some parts of the state tumbled below freezing by Tuesday morning.

By the time the snow ended Tuesday morning, 3.1 inches had fallen at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, pushing the seasonal total to 94.8 inches, and making it the snowiest winter on record, the weather service said. That exceeded the previous Detroit seasonal record of 93.6 inches from the winter of 1880-1881.

The state's largest utilities said crews are working to finish restoring power to about 35,000 homes and businesses without service following storms packing high winds that began on Saturday. Cleanup also continues from those storms, including at damaged schools in Kent County and the village of Byron.

In Flint, 1.3 inches fell as of Tuesday morning, pushing the seasonal total to 83.9 inches. That exceeded the previous Flint seasonal record of 82.9 inches from the winter of 1974-1975.

"Most people alive today have never experienced this," said Brian Tilley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in suburban Detroit. "It's probably the best way to sum it up, without getting carried away with superlatives."

Flood warnings are in effect along rivers in a wide swath of the Lower Peninsula. The Muskegon River in western Michigan was 3.3 feet over its banks at Evart in Osceola County on Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service said, and earlier it was 2.8 feet over flood stage near Croton Dam in Newaygo County's Croton Township.

Water at Croton Dam, about 35 miles north of Grand Rapids, was expected to remain high through next week, the weather service said. Newaygo County's emergency services director on Monday told some downstream to evacuate.

The Muskegon River caused flooding in the Newaygo County community of Grant.

Flooding also was reported along the Pere Marquette, Chippewa, Tittabawassee and White rivers. And forecasters are asking people to keep an eye out for rising water levels in the Escanaba River in the Upper Peninsula.

Newaygo, Mecosta, Midland, Osceola and Wexford counties have declared local state of emergencies, which enable them to execute operations plans, and administrate local aid and assistance, the state said.

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. said about 28,000 of its 150,000 affected electricity customers were offline Tuesday morning, including 15,000 in Oakland County, 5,000 in Wayne County and 2,000 in Macomb County. Crews from Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin are assisting.

Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. says 7,000 of its more than 149,000 affected Consumers Energy customers were without service Tuesday morning. Outages include about 1,950 in Montcalm County, about 800 in Newaygo County and about 770 in Muskegon County.

"Mother Nature has provided a challenging combination of rains, high winds and even snow since Saturday night," Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy's vice president of energy delivery, said in statement. "However, we're confident that we soon will be finished restoring power to the communities we serve."

In addition to Consumers Energy workers and contractors, more than 100 line workers from Indiana and Ohio are assisting the utility.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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