TRAVERSE CITY — Lightning strikes sparked at least two home fires in the area, while heavy rain and power disruptions caused havoc for some early morning commuters.
Storms that rolled through the area early today dropped between 1.6 inches and 3 inches of rain, and multiple lightning strikes disrupted power and started fires. No injuries were reported.
Traverse City firefighters were called out about 3:30 a.m. to a report of a basement fire. Chief Jim Tuller said lightning struck a tree on Allouez Trail and traveled through the irrigation system into the basement, where it scorched the control panel and some nearby items.
"It looked like somebody hit the wall with a blow torch," Tuller said.
A woman who was drying her hair reported feeling a shock come up through her foot about 7:30 a.m. when lightning struck her ranch-style home on Secor Road in Long Lake Township, said John Brown, Battalion 10 fire chief for the Grand Traverse Rural Fire Department.
The strike caused an attic fire above the bathroom and a bedroom that firefighters were able to contain to the attic.
Tuller said he watched the storms on radar and they appeared to sit over the city and grow.
"It was a lot of rain," Tuller said. "The streets were all flooded and it was tough getting through."
The National Weather Service in Gaylord reported Traverse City received up to 1.66 inches of rain while the Village of Manton had the highest measured rainfull at 3.01 inches by 11 a.m., said Meteorologist Mike Boguth. Rain should end by late morning Friday, Boguth said, but up to another inch may fall by then.
Traverse City Light & Power reported lightning caused one outage, but power surges from lightning prompted blinking lights at traffic signals at several local intersections. A surge also took out the signal at South Airport and Cass roads.
Flooding on South Airport at Logan's Landing blocked one lane, and contributed to morning commuters' woes. The Grand Traverse County Road Commission already had planned to close the lane Friday, said Manager Jim Cook. Workers are taking out ridges created by winter sand applications on the shoulders, an effect that traps water on the road.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for rain to taper off Friday morning with clearing skies and cooler temperatures with highs in the 60s through the weekend.