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Posted on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Winter storm closes schools, knocks out power for thousands in Ann Arbor area

By Cindy Heflin


Lauren Cipponeri digs out at her home on Beechwood Boulevard in Lima Township after Tuesday's storm. She has been without power since 3 a.m. Wednesday. "You don't realize how much you depend on electricity until it goes out," she said.

John Counts |

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new snowfall totals.

A winter storm dumped at least 5 inches of snow on Ann Arbor overnight and downed power lines, closing schools, contributing to multiple crashes on area roads and freeways and knocking out power to thousands in Washtenaw County.

Accidents were reported and trees were down all across Washtenaw County, a dispatcher with the Sheriff’s Office said at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. DTE Energy said 14,000 customers were without power in Washtenaw County.


A power line was down at the intersection of Huron Street and Dexter Avenue in Ann Arbor early Tuesday morning. A fire truck was blocking one lane about 6:15 a.m.

Hassan Hodges |

Most schools were closed, including all public school districts. Washtenaw Community College also called off classes.

Reports indicated the Ann Arbor area had received 7 inches or more of snow, said Matt Mosteiko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township. On the University of Michigan's North Campus, a weather observer recorded 7.4 inches, he said. A mile south of Ann Arbor, reports indicated 7 inches had fallen. Totals in other areas varied, with Saline reporting 6.8 inches and Dexter, 3.6.

Motorists were urged to allow extra time for travel if they have to drive this morning. Washtenaw County central dispatch said no roads or freeways were closed or blocked, but they were dealing with too many accidents to count.

The storm brought heavy wet snow and freezing rain that brought down tree limbs and power lines across Washtenaw County. DTE Energy had 30,000 customers without power in southeast Michigan. Washtenaw County was hardest hit, said spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba. About 6,000 were without power in Oakland County.

An estimated restoration time was not immediately available, but the utility hoped to have most power back on sometime Wednesday, Bodipo-Memba said. Outages were widespread throughout the area. Check the DTE outage map for more information.

Winter storm coverage

Keep up-to-date on the latest coverage, from forecasts to closings around Washtenaw County

Ypsilanti Township closed its offices for the day because of weather and power outages. The 14-B District Court also closed. Pittsfield Township offices and most Ann Arbor District Library offices were scheduled to open at noon. The library's Malletts Creek branch was closed for the day because of a power outage, Library Director Josie Parker said in a message posted on the district's website.

Some businesses were affected as well. The recently opened Wafel Shop on East Liberty Street in Ann Arbor announced it would tentatively open at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Snowfall totals varied across southeast Michigan. The airport in Metro Detroit was reporting 2.5 inches, Mosteiko said. Novi and Southfield had 4 inches. Taylor had 2.

Little additional accumulation is expected throughout the day Wednesday, but another inch of snow is likely overnight, Mosteiko said.


Outages are represented by the shaded areas on the map. Red areas indicate more than 2,500 customers without power. Brown areas are those with 1,500 to 2500 without power. Yellow areas indicate 500 to 1,500 without power. Green areas have 100 to 500 customers without power.

DTE map



Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

It was raining when I started my commute home yesterday. It turned to snow by the time I reached the border of the Republic. I had a fairly easy commute this morning. I used the backup camera in the car to back out of the drive and avoid the bent tree branches that were blocking part of the driveway. The roads were clear and mostly wet, with a few icy spots, but nothing too treacherous. I will have to deal with some downed tree limbs when I get home from work. The combination of ice, heavy snow and winds snapped a number of branches. Other than that, it's just another winter day in Michigan.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

The roads were clear throughout my commute. That was a first! I would probably be singing a different tune if I lived on a side street. But I live on a main road, and for once, all was clear. Hooray!


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

Any reports how the main roads are through town?


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

slushy but definitely driveable for the few that I was on (Huron, Hill, Washtenaw). Side streets pretty iffy still.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

No power when it rains, no power when it snows, no power when it's windy, no power when it's not windy. In the meantime, the DTE CEO makes millions, DTE rakes in record profits, and Michigan taxpayers continue to....take it.

Tammy Mayrend

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

What was the official snowfall total reported at the Ann Arbor Airport? We have an office poll here and need to know.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

7.4" per this report.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

Are there school buildings without power? Just wondering how that might affect things tomorrow if the power does not get restored as quickly as they hope.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:11 a.m.

That is my thought exactly. There were a lot of power outages near were schools are located. Skyline and Scarlet seem to loose power a lot during these storms. Especially Clemente. 50 50 shot as to what tells in the morning.

Monica Milla

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

The Malletts Creek branch of the Ann Arbor District Library will be closed all day due to a power outage.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

From District Library web site. All Library's closed and will open at noon ( Wen ), except Mallets Creek, which will remain closed due to power outage


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Downtown branch of District Library is closed until staff makes it in.

David Cahill

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

At 3:19 this morning there was a bright flash and a loud boom - the classic signs of transformer failure - here on Broadway. Within a couple of minutes there were three more "flash/boom" cycles, making a total of four. Our power did not flicker. But there are three circuits that meet near our house, so one of the other circuits was plainly in trouble. The DTE outage map doesn't show any outages near us, so I our neighborhood's problems were just temporary.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Fire officials and DTE told us these flashes were caused by tree limbs falling on power lines. You can read more about this in a story by Amy Biolchini:


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

I think it could very well just have been distant lightening. Strong snowfall tends to muffle the thunder from far away, but the flash can be seen quite a ways.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

Yeah, I saw the same thing. The power flickered, which woke me up, and then I saw a few flashes outside of my windows. The blinds were closed so I couldn't see exactly where it was from but the power went out on the 2nd or 3rd flash for me.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

I thought it was the transformer station at the Broadway Bridge also but I don't think we would see the flash all the way up here on Pontiac/Barton and we never lost power...curious for sure. Perhaps and investigate for us?


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

I want to say that I think it is amusing how crappy the roads in town were this morning. It was awful getting from Liberty/Maple to 14E, but once I was on 14E/23N, the roads were fine!

say it plain

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

Welcome to Ann Arbor, @Griffin!


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

It takes them forever to plow Maple north of Dexter.

Robert Granville

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Power isn't just out for some. There are power sags for those that still have power... meaning large appliances flicker, fluoro tubes won't come on or stay on, tvs and computer monitors restart constantly, and appliances that require high voltage to turn on simply won't turn on. To protect your belongings, you're best just pretending you only have power to light bulbs and unplug everything else.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

Great to hear you have power. But those without? Enjoy being cold if you have no place to go and stay warm. Otherwise, glad to hear you have power.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

You think we could not get such a blurry photo of the power outages?

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Doh, sorry Moonman, I thought you were referencing Hassan's shot. For the outage map, follow Ross' advice. The map on the DTE site is interactive.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Just google "DTE outage map", it's the top result. Learn how to use the internet already, sheesh. :)


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Right on

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

The photo is actually clear Moonman, it is just the glow of the lights in the dark-misty conditions you are seeing. You can see more reader photos as well as send in your own here:


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Finally a Snow Day everyone can agree on!!! :-)


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

When I was in school we had this kind of snow every day and we walked to school with no buses uphill both ways and we didn't have fancy coats and boots. This was the weather we had in May too.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

Sorry MoonmanDon I was referring to the comments on as there has been so much controversy over the last couple of calls/no calls on a snow day.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

NO! EMU still has class.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Does anyone else notice that the man in the picture is jaywalking?


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

The difference is that most other downtowns don't have ridiculous crosswalk ordinances that make pedestrians less safe.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

Nothing new in A2, or any downtown for that matter Michelle. :)


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Jaywalking safely is a great lifeskill! :) I have no sympathy, though, for jaywalkers who don't know what they're doing and start to hold up traffic.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

I did! But now the picture has been changed to someone shoveling snow. I'm posting this comment so no one will wonder what you're talkin' about.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

I'm debating whether I can wait for warmer temperatures to melt the snow off my driveway & sidewalk or should I just panty-up and start shoveling now. I may need another cup of coffee before making a decision.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

Well, as you so put it, our neighbors did indeed panty up and got most of the sidewalks and driveways cleared. Although the amount of water that puddled afterwards certaintly we needed our plastic boots to keep hi and dry with. Not a fun day.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Wait for sure, I went to put the trash out (not sure if they will even pu today) and totally skidded out and landed on my behind it is super slippery out there.

Linda Peck

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

RunsWithScissors, you brighten my day! I will use this "panty-up" in the future.

Lon Horwedel

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Is it possible - a snow day that everyone agrees on???


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.



Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

I-94 @ Baker Road, gas stations are open, but couldn't pump gas at 6am. Not sure if McD's is open, wasn't then either due to the outage. The entire area is predicted to get there power back late tonight. All up and down Jackson Road there are wide spread outages, which gave me a power out day off from work!

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

And to think only a couple days ago it felt like spring was really upon us


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

Monday was only a tease because from what I hear seen before? That was the calm before the storm. Hope you enjoy the no power zone. I'm not.

Beth Ward

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

Once again the large portion of Ann Arbor Hills neighborhood is dark and generators running. DTE repaired and reinforced the odd # side of Londonderry, have the even side folks been tardy paying their bills? More evidence that improving infrastructure is not the foremost consideration of the energy lobby.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Rick Stevens wrote: "Arent' the SMART meters supposed to tell DTE about outages so people don't have to call? Oh, forgot - it's really about billing you cheaply and quickly." Yup, and to charge you more for that privilege. DonBee wrote: "DTE does not have the ability to spend very much money without permission from the MPSC" Pure Baloney. DTE can spend all of the money it wants on its existing infrastructure. It cannot raise rates without MPSC approval. DTE profited nearly $600 million in the first nine months of 2012. I haven't seen a figure yet for the entire year. I think they can afford to improve their infrastructure.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

well the PROPER infrastructure would be to bury the lines in the ground. This is better for trees and keeps power in almost all situations. The fact is, people of the United States have traded in quality in favor of cheap. Comcast , and DTE themselves (gas) already have lines that run underground. Imagine a country where they would allow gas lines to be run above ground and subject to being ruptured due to falling trees and ice and snow.

Rick Stevens

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Arent' the SMART meters supposed to tell DTE about outages so people don't have to call? Oh, forgot - it's really about billing you cheaply and quickly.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

A large part of Ann Arbor's charm (and its name sake) is the trees. We have a large number of glorious trees. I can handle a few outages in trade for keeping our trees. @ Beth - I doubt DTE read your comment. You'll get more response if you contact them directly.

Stan Hyne

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Trees, Trees, Trees, if your trees weren't on the lines, the lights would be on.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Ms. Ward - I would suggest that since DTE has a rate case in front of the Michigan Public Service Commission -AND- the MPSC has not approved the amount of capital investment that DTE has asked for for grid improvements and strengthing in the past few rate cases (which are done annually) that you write a letter telling the MPSC that you would like them to give DTE permission to spend the money they want to spend to improve the reliability of the grid. DTE does not have the ability to spend very much money without permission from the MPSC, the regulatory commission determines how much they get to spend each year.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

Why don't you call DTE and let them know your concerns? Or is your generator too loud for you to talk on the phone?


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

Where are the comments from WCRC?? No one answering the phones?


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : noon

All but EMU. Guess my safety is endangered.

greg, too

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

It would be nice if they would have plowed. I dropped my wife off at work and just sat and watched the students try and play ice capades with their cars in the lots.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

You should be happy that you are getting your moneys worth. I commuted to Washtenaw and Eastern for years on snowy days. Get over or don't go.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

UM doesn't close because 65% of their students live in the dorms or with in walking distance. EMU is a commuter school with thousands of travelers, from many miles away. Your argument is invalid.

Carrie Rheingans

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

U-M never closes either, so you're not alone!

Northside Parent

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

Error in second paragraph: surely you mean 5:30 Wednesday morning, not Tuesday, before the storm hit.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

Indeed. It's Wednesday. That's been fixed.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

Did anyone see the bright greenish-white flashes during the night, especially around 2-3 a.m., on the NW side of Ann Arbor?


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1 a.m.

My money is on the transformers that blew out the power in most of the general areas. I hear Barton Hills had down wires in that area. O what fun to have no heat or power on a cold snowy day.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

I saw them too, but I had used a lot of my medical marijuana last night :)

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Yes! I saw them as I was leaving Ypsi city council last night. Wasn't quite sure what caused it, but it sure was odd.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

Glad it wasn't just me - near Ypsi High School around 11pm when the power went out, and I saw some flashing to the south.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

we saw it too on north maple. Around us it was accompanied by buzzing as the lights got bright and died down. Definitely electrical. Then I saw all of the power go out on the east side of maple and the lights/noise stopped. We figured it was a transformer too but I've never seen anything like that before.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Woke me up and I thought it might have been the gas exchange across the road, but my husband thought it was some kind of lightning??


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

We had those same lights on the west side (Jackson Ave) as well! My wonderful snow service (Quality guys rock!) had just finished plowing out my driveway at 2:28 and these bright green and yellow lights were shining all through the windows of my house! Totally quiet outside. Definitely like the scene in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". We still have power, amazingly.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Yes!!! I saw them. I heard a little rumble too. It was after our power went out but I still wondered if it was a transformer somewhere. Other electrical? I wish I had been outside to see it. I just saw my room light up and the blue come in thru the blinds. Very 'close encounters' like!!!


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

There were flashes also in SW Ypsilanti Township. Lights were out for seconds afterwards. Must have been some electrical explosion somewhere. That or aliens.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Heard transformers blowing around 3 on the SE side but no lights.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Yes! At first we thought it was lightening, but then the sky was flashing bright green and blue also. We wondered if it was a transformer blowing? I have never seen anything like that before!


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Yes, saw it too! West side of town. Thought maybe lightning. Anyone know what it was?


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

Here in Lodi Township, I've measured a consistent 9" of snow in our yard - the real heavy stuff too. So, some areas the snow was much heavier than the 5" cited in this post.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

Power dropped out in my area after 3:30 AM. The tree branches have the coating of ice and then several inches of snow on top of that. Main roads were a mess coming into work around 5 AM. Above freezing temps should help at lot during the daylight hours. Residential streets are very bad, so a no brainer for schools to cancel classes.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 6:38 a.m.

I know it's not nice to be without heat in winter. If only they would bury the electrical lines like they have done throughout Europe then it would be a thing of the past. Hurricane Sandy would not have effected people nearly as much either.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

We lost power in the ypsi area around 2 am. As of this writing? Still without power staying warm at the local library. No where else to go. Afterwards? Home to bed still without power or heat. Not fun on a winters day. Wish it was summer. We would head north. O well. Stay warm and it does suck to have a snow day and no power.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

Poll: Top 5 places to visit on a snow day?

Ben Freed

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

I was always a big fan of Huron Hills. Especially if you know the back entrance so you don't have to walk all the way to the big hill!

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

For those of you heading to the sledding hills:


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum!


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

The UM Botanical Gardens or the Detroit Zoo butterfly house; they will transport you to another world.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

if the roads are bad enough that they closed school, how about home, so the plows can do their thing?

Laurie Longo

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

The Arb or any of the golf courses (with a sled, of course...).

greg, too

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Work. No snow day for us. Boo.... If you have kids, the Hands on Museum and then kerrytown for lunch.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Get into the woods, anywhere. This sticky snow with sagging branches makes the woods a magical place! Even just driving into work was neat.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

My bed

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

I agree with vets! I had a blast there last year.


Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

Zingers for coffee and vets for snow.