KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A strong storm system moving through the Great Lakes region is creating potentially damaging wind gusts and wintry conditions across the region Sunday.
The National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids issued a High Wind Warning calling for wind gusts as strong as 55-65 miles per hour Sunday afternoon and evening.
The warning time continues through 7 a.m. Monday. It includes a majority of West Michigan.
Potential impacts of the High Wind Warning:
Farther north, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Oceana counties were were put under a Blizzard Warning, also scheduled 7 a.m. Sunday through 7 a.m. Monday. The northern Lower Peninsula was forecast to see more intense bursts of snow, and therefore worse impacts in terms of visibility and travel.
The Blizzard Warning mentioned the following, in effect for Mecosta, Newaygo, and Oceana counties:
The National Weather Service advised against any travel in the Blizzard Warning area: "Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you," the warning said.
It should be noted that severe thunderstorm grade wind gusts are anything 58 mph or stronger, the threshold where damage begins to occur in weaker structures.
Wind gusts were forecast to be from the west, meaning north-south oriented roadways will feel the harshest effects of the wind, especially for larger profile vehicles.
Wind gusts were forecast to intensify throughout Sunday morning, reaching their max potential during the afternoon and evening. Improvement in terms of wind should occur by the Monday morning commute.
Consumers Energy spokesperson Roger Morgenstern said the utility company had not brought in additional man power from outside of the state. With an event like this, he said, it's very possible neighboring states could also be impacted, which means utility crews out of state could be just as busy across the upper Midwest.
However, Consumers said in a statement, utility crews were "mobilizing resources and making other preparations to quickly respond to service interruptions" expected this weekend. Those plans included placing extra employees on call and performing equipment checks ahead of the storm.
Morgenstern reminded customers to call 911 and Consumers at 800-477-5050 to report any downed power lines. He said customers should use the utility company's online outage center for helpful tips in dealing with outages and their impacts.
Editor's Note: This story and its headline were updated to reflect the latest warnings and forecast from the National Weather Service.