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High winds, hail and no power, oh my!

Here's one of two large trees that fell on a house in the Lakes of Indianwood subdivision Saturday night. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
April 16, 2014 - A powerful storm containing high winds and hail blew through the Oxford area Saturday night, knocking down trees and power lines.

Meterologist Dan Thompson, who works at the National Weather Service office in White Lake, reported wind gusts were "mostly in the 60-to-70-mile-an-hour range."

Accompanying the strong winds was a high volume of hail that completely blanketed the ground like snow and in some areas, was a couple inches thick.

"I think generally, it was pea-sized, but we had some reports of half-inch to 1-inch-sized hail," Thompson said.

Straight-line winds of up to 70 mph uprooted or split many large trees, leaving them laying on the ground, on houses and across roads. The high winds also left thousands of Oxford households without electricity thanks to downed power lines. Following the storm, the DTE Energy Outage Map showed 2,443 customers without power Saturday night in Oxford's 48371 and 48370 zip codes.

Over in Addison, the map showed 30 customers without electricity in the 48367 area.

The Lakes of Indianwood subdivision in the southern part of Oxford Township was hit pretty hard. It was littered with many fallen branches, limbs and trees.

The hardest-hit home was at corner of Chieftain Circle and Arrowhead Trail.

Two very large, heavy trees fell on this house belonging to resident Jim Racine, who's lived there since 2005.

Oxford Fire Chief Pete Scholz said they went through the roof "like a butter knife" and "smashed the hell out the house."

Racine and his family were not home, so no one was hurt."That's all that matters," he said.

Racine was out shopping when he received text messages from neighbors informing him of what had happened.

When he returned home and saw the damage for himself, Racine described the scene as "devastating." He's getting married in about a month and has been working hard to get the house ready.

High winds caused two large trees to fall over and block Pontiac Rd, between W. Drahner Rd. and Rolfe Dr. The tree close to W. Drahner brought down some power lines, which were repaired Sunday.

Although the tree close to W. Drahner was removed, the one close to Rolfe Dr. is still there and touching some power lines. As a result, that portion of Pontiac Rd. remained closed to traffic as of Tuesday.

Another large tree fell across M-24 in front of the Collier Lanes bowling alley. However, Scholz said a passing motorist with a chainsaw and his firefighters were able to cut it up and remove it in order to clear the road.

The high winds picked up again on Monday morning, causing more trees and power lines to fall. Wind gusts exceeded 50 mph.

At 9 a.m. Monday, the DTE outage map showed 1,613 customers without power in the 48371 and 48370 zip codes. Both Meijer and Oxford High School lost power.

"Everything from Montana's (restaurant) north is all without power right now," said Scholz on Monday morning.

A power line came down on the building that houses the Great Lakes Kids Energy Zone on the west side of M-24, across from Meijer.

"A wire broke and went across the roof and arced," Scholz said. "Part of it is laying on the roof and the rest of it is laying in the parking lot."

Scholz said the high winds also made the power lines running along the east side of M-24, north of Ray Rd., "slap together" and arc, "which caused a small grass fire up there."

Scholz noted there were also downed power lines along Ludwig Rd. between Oakwood and Thomas roads.

Fifty-two customers were left without power in Addison's 48367 zip code following Monday's high winds. By 1:15 p.m. Monday, the map showed power had been restored to all but 17 customers in the 48371 zip code and two in the 48367 area. The map remained unchanged at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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