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Meteorologist: No rhyme or reason why storm skipped Grand Haven

Becky Vargo • Aug 29, 2018 at 3:14 PM

A severe thunderstorm predicted for West Michigan seemed to skirt the Grand Haven area — with some exceptions.

While areas north, south and east of the Tri-Cities were hit with blasting winds and torrential rains, storm watchers left Grand Haven’s south pier feeling disappointed Wednesday evening. There were some dark clouds and only a brief — although very strong — wind gust that sent them scurrying toward their cars.

Consumers Energy officials said that, in the 24 hours prior to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, 138,596 outages were reported in Michigan. By noon Wednesday, there were still 2,055 customers without power.

There were only a couple scattered outages in Crockery and Grand Haven townships left on the outage map Wednesday morning. They were reported after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power outage map showed no outages as of late Wednesday morning, although there were outages earlier in the morning as well as the night before. 

BLP storm-related outages were as follows: 

Sunday: 799 customers in the West Spring Lake Road area lost power at 11:42 p.m. due to tree limbs on lines. The branches were cleared and power restored at 1:33 a.m.

Monday: No outages.

Tuesday: 32 customers lost power at 2:09 a.m. due to a tree limb lying across a transformer in the Pennoyer/Franklin area. Power was restored at 4:02 a.m.

Wednesday: Nine customers lost power at 5:49 a.m. due to a blown fuse caused by a fallen limb. Power was restored almost two hours later.

There was a lot of rain that came with the three days of storms.

Ferrysburg resident Jack VanWeelden said he had measured almost 8 inches of rain in his gauge prior to a couple of showers midday Wednesday. That included 4 inches from Sunday, 2 inches from Monday and another almost 2 inches from Tuesday.

The Williams Street resident avoided some very wet areas in his yard, instead opting for some slightly higher ground to watch a crew remove a fallen oak tree from his neighbor’s garage.

“Did you see the hole the tree left?” he asked. “It’s full of water.”

VanWeelden also pointed out that the tree had no tap roots, something not really needed in the area with a very high water table.

Next door, K.C. Baxter talked to other neighbors as a crew from Dale’s Tree Service removed three large branches — each the size of a tree — before picking up the huge trunk. Baxter and her husband had recently purchased the house and were renovating it. The crushed, two-stall detached garage was filled with their possessions.

Baxter said she was on the second floor of their other garage building shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday when she heard what sounded like a freight train and a large crack.

“I walked out here and it was already bouncing,” she said.

The large tree collapsed the roof of the garage and a branch pierced the roof of the nearby house. 

“There’s water inside,” Baxter said.

Baxter said she was glad that nobody was hurt.

“The bummer of it is, the eagles used to sit in this tree,” she said.

Safety first

Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morgenstern cautioned residents to be careful as they drive and walk around West Michigan this week. 

“With more than 1,400 downed wires and dozens of broken poles, the public needs to stay aware of their surroundings while venturing out,” he said.

The public is asked to report any downed wires by calling 911 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.

Why did it miss us?

National Weather Service meteorologist Heather Orow said it wasn’t the sand dunes that caused the bad weather to split around the Grand Haven area.

“With the type of weather pattern we’re in, the storms will be hit or miss,” she explained. “There’s no rhyme or reason for it.”

The forecast calls for a dry weather pattern Thursday and most of Friday, with the humidity starting to climb again, although not as high as it was before, Orow said. We can expect on and off showers and thunderstorms throughout the Labor Day weekend. High temperatures this weekend will be in the upper 70s to lower 80s.

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