By Jessica Mathews /

Utility companies are preparing for a line of severe thunderstorms expected to hit the south, southwest, mid-Michigan, and lakeshore regions of the state starting this afternoon and lasting through early Thursday morning.

Some of the storms could include heavy rain and winds in excess of 60 mph. High wind gusts are also expected Thursday and Friday across the Lower Peninsula.

Consumers Energy says its Restoration Team has been monitoring the developing storm for several days and is ready to respond. The company is planning to have approximately 300 crews on its system to assist with any restoration efforts. Crews are also preparing trucks and essential materials.

Both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy encourage customers to visit their online outage maps to report any outages and sign up to receive power restoration updates.

Consumers Energy is also reminding about storm safety and urges the public to stay at least 25 feet away from downed wires, keep children or pets away, and report issues by calling 9-1-1 and the utility at 800-477-5050.

Any portable generators should be placed at least 25 feet away from any doors, windows or fresh air intakes. Officials remind to never operate a generator inside a home, garage, basement or enclosed area as proper ventilation is critical.

Further, they ask that people be alert to crews working along roads. Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear before safely passing workers on roadsides.