Jessica Mathews /

Local utility providers are preparing for the big winter storm expected to wreak havoc on roads and possibly bring down power lines.

A winter storm warning is in effect from 7pm tonight through 4am Saturday.

The National Weather Service says motorists should plan on slippery road conditions that will impact commutes. Widespread blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility while wind chills of 15 below zero will produce dangerously cold conditions. The Weather Service advises that gusty winds could bring down tree branches and produce sporadic power outages with very cold conditions persisting into the weekend.

Consumers Energy says it’s all-hands-on-deck in preparing for the storm. Crews have been busy preparing trucks and essential materials to assist with any restoration efforts. President and CEO Garrick Rochow says they are ready and will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore any outages the storm may cause. Possible winds of over 60 mph can result in power outages, downed wires and other safety hazards.

Consumers Energy reminds the public to stay at least 25 feet away from downed wires and anything they are touching, keep children or pets away, and report any issues by calling 9-1-1 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.

The utility stresses that a portable generator should be placed at least 25 feet away from any doors, windows or fresh air intakes – never inside a home, garage, basement or enclosed area as proper ventilation is critical.

Motorists are reminded to be alert to crews working along slick roads. Drivers are asked to slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear to safely go past workers on roadsides.

More information about what to do before, during, and after a storm, along with an outage map and restoration estimates are available on the Consumers Energy website. That link is provided.