Snow began falling just before 7 a.m. today, Thursday, in Petoskey as a winter storm moves into the region.
Commuters across Northern Michigan should expect anywhere from six to eight inches of snow by the time they drive home from work this evening, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Brian Adam in Gaylord.
"The lead wave of snow is pushing up and it will continue throughout the day," said Adam, "And this area, from Gaylord north to the Mackinac Bridge and west to Petoskey, is in the cross hairs in terms of the heaviest snowfall."
Another four inches is expected to fall over night, followed by strong wind and some lake effect snow on Friday, for a total of anywhere from 12 to 14 inches over two days.
"The heaviest snow will occur this morning until about midnight tonight," said Adam.
An abatement and opportunity to clean up the snow will take place late Friday to early Saturday. The weekend is expected to be calm and in the mid-20s.
Utility companies report they are ready to respond to power outages resulting from the winter storm.
"We have procedures in line and we're comfortable we'll be able to get the power back on," said Dave Guzniczak, communications director for Great Lakes Energy.
Currently, he said, the company doesn't plan on needing additional help from other energy cooperatives because rain rather than snow is expected in some of Great Lakes Energy's southern coverage areas and crews from those areas will be able to come north to help out if needed.
Consumers Energy is making preparations to respond to any electric service interruptions that may result from the storm.
"Our customers can rest assured that they can count on us to be ready when this storm hits," said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy vice president of energy delivery. "We are mobilizing company and contract personnel and equipment to be in place for rapid response to any customer power outages."
At the same time, Rochow said, it's advisable for customers to be prepared for this and other winter storms to keep themselves and their family members safe.
"It's important that we take time to plan for severe weather activity," Rochow said. "Being prepared can minimize the impact of a storm and help you and your family to stay safe.
Storm safety tips from Consumers Energy
During a Storm
--Stay clear of downed and sagging wires. Treat all downed wires as if they are energized and keep a safe distance. Also make sure children and pets maintain a safe distance. Immediately report downed wires to Consumers Energy at 1-800-
477-5050 or the local law enforcement agency.
--Don't attempt to repair or remove limbs from lines.
--Don't interfere with utility crews while they are working.
--Keep one light "on" so you'll know when your electricity has been restored.
--If power is lost, switch electronic devices such as cell phones to a power saving mode and keep all non-essential calls to a minimum to prolong battery life.
--If you are leaving the house, turn the main breaker off. This will reduce the chance of appliance damage and safety problems if power is restored while you're away.
--Draw blinds and shades over your windows. That will prevent glass from shattering into your home if the window should break due to blown objects.
--If you lose power, report it to Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050 or online at www.consumersenergy.com
After a Storm
--Monitor your local radio station or Consumers Energy's outage map (www.consumersenergy.com/outagemap) on your mobile device to get the most current information on estimated restoration times. If internet access is not available, you can call Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050.
--If your home loses heat during periods of extreme cold, go to a designated public shelter. To find the nearest shelter in your area, you can use your mobile phone to text SHELTER then your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA).
--Be very careful when attempting to clear debris or tree branches, that there are no power lines entangled. Stay far away from fallen or overhead power lines and do not touch anything they are touching, including tree branches.
--Report downed power lines immediately to 1-800-477-5050 or the local law enforcement agency.
--Avoid traveling through storm-damaged areas which could have downed power lines and other hazards, and could slow down the restoration efforts.
--When it is safe to leave your home, offer to help neighbors who may need special assistance, including infants, the elderly or people with disabilities.
--In some cases, the mast that holds the electric service wires to your home or business may have been damaged or torn away from the home. Utility crews will reconnect the wires to your home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or cable. Do not touch any of the equipment. Only visibly check for damage to your mast from a safe distance, after ensuring there are no downed wires nearby.