- The Washington Times - Monday, December 29, 2008

DETROIT (AP) — Utilities in Michigan scrambled Monday to restore power knocked out by a gusty weekend storm as rain and melting snow caused flooding there and in other parts of the Midwest.

Power was restored to about 80 percent of the 413,000 Michigan homes and businesses that lost service, according to the state’s utilities. Some could remain without power until Wednesday because of Sunday’s storm, which carried winds gusting more than 60 mph.

Nearly 60,000 customers from central New York to Buffalo also lost power Sunday as wind gusts as high as 75 mph brought down trees and utility poles there. About 4,400 New York utility customers remained without power Monday.

Flood warnings were posted throughout the Midwest as temperatures rose after a week of heavy snowfall. Forecasters said flooding was possible in areas of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and northwest Ohio.

In Michigan, roads in some Ottawa County subdivisions were under 2 to 3 feet of water, while the first floors of some homes were flooded, National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Walton said.

Water overran banks in many areas of Illinois but had created only minor headaches Monday a precautionary nursing home evacuation in Ottawa and a few scattered rural roads closed. More flooding was predicted later in the week.

In southeastern Wisconsin, the National Weather Service predicted the Fox River would crest about a foot over flood stage Tuesday in the town of Wheatland. In northwest Missouri, the Grand River reached nearly 9 feet above flood stage in places over the weekend.

Winter storm warnings were issued throughout the Northwest, which has been hammered by storms in recent weeks. The National Weather Service said northeastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle could expect 3 to 7 inches of new snow in the valleys, and 6 to 10 inches in the mountains through Monday evening.

Spokane, Wash., set a monthly record for snowfall, at 59.7 inches surpassing a milestone set in 1950 with yet another storm on Monday. Snow had tapered off by the evening but wind was gusting up to 35 mph. Another big storm was forecast for New Year’s Day.

Roads were so clogged in the city that Spokane police asked semi-truck drivers to use chains after several trucks became stuck in giant snowbanks. Black ice was also causing many accidents on Interstate 90, officials said.

Heavy snow caused several roof collapses in the Spokane area, including one at a supermarket where a worker suffered a minor injury. Natural gas leaks occurred where snow or ice fell and sheared off gas meters. Southwest Airlines canceled some flights at the Spokane airport, and other airlines reported delays.

Associated Press writer Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane contributed to this report.

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