Washtenaw County dries out after floods Thursday
Courtesy of April Howe
Almost 2.5 inches of rain in about 30 minutes caused flooding in Ann Arbor and parts of Washtenaw County Thursday. At one point, there was 4 feet of standing water on South State Street.
Matt Mosteiko, metereologist at the National Weather Service, said Friday the south side of Ann Arbor reported 2.43 inches of rain Thursday. On the University of Michigan's campus, 1.84 inches of rain was reported and other locations around Ann Arbor reported about 2 inches.
Luckily, the floods receded rather quickly and, for the most part, appeared to be gone by Friday morning.
“Hill Street was the worst one and that’s been wrapped up,” said Ann Arbor police Sgt. Colleen McCarthy.
The highest gust of wind — 65 miles per hour — came in Milan at McCrone and Willow roads, and Mosteiko reported hail 1.25-inch in diameter falling 5 miles to the south-southeast of Ann Arbor.
Dennis Kahlbaum, a U-M weather observer, said the record rainfall for one day is 4.54 inches, which came on Aug. 6, 1998. However, Thursday's rain fall was still historic.
"Based on the hourly rainfall rates, yesterday's storms were approximately a 50-year event, with some areas approaching a 100-year event," Kahlbaum said.
A 50-year event means there is a 1 in 50 chance of a storm of that magnitude happening in a calendar year.
Traffic was a mess in and around downtown Ann Arbor Thursday afternoon as heavy rains moved into the area. Among the streets that experienced flooding were Fifth Avenue between Packard and East Madison streets, Depot Street east of North Main Street, Madison Street at Fourth Avenue, East University Avenue, Church Street, Felch and Ashley streets and South Main Street south of Packard.
Mosteiko said South State Street had the largest amount of measured flooding. He said there wasn’t as much significant flooding in Ann Arbor, but parts of Southeast Michigan were hit hard.
“There were flooded cars in Pontiac and Oakland County,” he said.
A photo circulated through social media Thursday showed standing water at Chipotle, 205 S. State St., Ann Arbor, during the storm. Adam Peck, kitchen manager at the store, wasn’t working Thursday but heard about it.
He said there wasn’t any evidence of flooding at the store Friday morning.
“Things all appear to be just fine,” he said. “We’re open and everything’s fine today.”
At one point Thursday, thousands of people in Washtenaw County were without power, according to DTE Energy. By Friday morning, it appeared power outages were scattered in single-customer outages throughout Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.
DTE spokesman Scott Simons said approximately 3,700 people were originally without power in Washtenaw County. By 8:45 a.m. Friday morning, that number was down to about 100.
Simons said the “vast majority” of people without power Friday morning would have it restored by Friday night.
Police and fire officials in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and Pittsfield Township reported no major flooding incidents in their areas Thursday.
Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said there wasn’t any significant flooding to report in that jurisdiction.
“Nothing that was bad enough to put out,” he said.
Ypsilanti Township Fire Department Lt. Keith Harr said fire crews weren’t required to respond to any major incidents Thursday.
“There’s nothing that we’ve been called to deal with,” he said. “The dam is on high alert for water release, but there’s nothing that we’ve had to make a run on.”
In Pittsfield Township, flooding was reported, and traffic lights were knocked out by the storm. Firefighters also had to clear a downed tree out of a roadway at one point.
Fire Chief Sean Gleason said the department got one call from motorists who said they were in trouble, but even that turned out to be minor.
“The only call we had related to the storms was a call for people trapped in their car by floodwater,” he said. “But, before the fire department and the police department arrived, they were out of the car.”