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Thousands without power after "low-end tornado" winds hit Washtenaw County

Robben Schulz

Thousands of Washtenaw County residents are without power Wednesday evening after a major storm this afternoon. As of 8 p.m., more than 25,000 DTE customers were without power in the county. [DTE Outage Map]

County officials were expecting a severe storm to hit the area Wednesday afternoon, but it quickly escalated. The 60 miles per hour winds in the forecast jumped to 80.

Ben Pinette, the county’s Emergency Operations Manager, says that’s when his team triggered the county’s outdoor warning siren around 3:00.

"That’s really designed to get people who are outdoors to go inside and seek additional information for their own safety. So, those 80-mile an hour winds are really significant. They’re like a low-end tornado."

Pinette says there’s often confusion that the sirens always mean there’s a tornado. He says they are triggered anytime wind gusts exceed 75 miles per hour.

"It could be weather-related. It could be a hazardous materials incident. There’s a variation of what those sirens could sound for, but the message is always the same."

The storm knocked down tree branches all over the county in addition to several power lines.

There was also a power line that fell into the Huron River in between the Arb and Gallup Park. No injuries were reported.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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