Strong southwest winds are whipping across Michigan today, cutting power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

High winds also prompted the partial closure of the Mackinac Bridge.

Consumers Energy said as of 4 p.m., 44,000 customers are without power in northern Michigan, and the utility expects that number to increase throughout the day.

DTE Energy's outage map showed some 5,000 customers without power, mostly in the Lapeer area, with smaller outages scattered throughout the state.

A high wind advisory is in effect for most of the state until 7 p.m., with sustained winds of 25-35 m.p.h. and 50 m.p.h. gusts.

In addition, a gale warning is in effect for all of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair and western Lake Erie, with a storm warming for the Outer Saginaw Bay Area and Central Lake Huron.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority says the bridge connecting Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas was closed Tuesday morning to all vehicles except for passenger cars, passenger vans and empty pickups. Those crossing the bridge were told to drive slowly.

In southwest Michigan, a motorcyclist died after crashing early Tuesday into a utility truck. Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morgenstern said the truck was parked alongside a road in Kalamazoo County's Cooper Township with its warning lights activated to survey storm damage when it was hit.

As the winds slowly die down, temperatures will drop significantly. On Wednesday, the forecast high is 36 degrees with a low of 25 degrees. Temperatures will be even cooler later in the week, with a high near 30 degrees and low of 22 degrees on Friday and Saturday.

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