Storm causes widespread power outages

Brian Rowell Daily Press A portion of a large tree snapped off and fell into the front yard of this home on the 800 block of South 14th Street Wednesday morning. A storm slammed the area with high winds and heavy, wet snow Tuesday night and into Wednesday. The weather conditions caused widespread power outages due to fallen trees and high winds knocking out power lines.

ESCANABA — The snowstorm that swept in Tuesday night caused trouble for residents across the central U.P. due to the high winds and dense, wet nature of the precipitation. On Wednesday, schools were closed, trees and power lines were damaged, and many homes and businesses lost power. Some outages began Tuesday night.

Shortly after noon on Wednesday, 54% of UPPCO customers in Delta County were without power. A live map on UPPCO’s website showed that about 3% saw outages in Schoolcraft, 6% in Marquette County, 4% in Keweenaw, and less than 1% in Alger and Iron counties. UPPCO only services 35 customers in Menominee County, but 100% of them lost power.

Customers of Alger-Delta Co-op also lost electricity, with the greatest number of outages in Menominee County – also around noon Wednesday, 72% of them had no power. 42% of Delta was out, 39% of Alger, 10% of Schoolcraft and 9% of Marquette.

At a few minutes before 1 p.m., the Island Resort and Casino had no power – an employee reported that it had been out all morning, returned for 40 minutes and then dropped back out. Blackouts, brownouts and come-and-go electricity — on top of the Winter Storm Warning that remained in effect until 2 p.m. in Luce, Delta and Schoolcraft — resulted in some businesses closing and events being cancelled or rescheduled.

The storm is expected to continue with a little more accumulation into the evening, and lasting longer in the northern U.P. than the south.

Reports coming into the National Weather Service in Negaunee mid-storm were as follows as of around 8 a.m. Wednesday: three to six inches had fallen in Delta County, with more in Escanaba than Gladstone; the highest totals were seen in the higher elevations of Baraga and Marquette counties with eight to 12 inches; Iron Mountain had around four to five; there was less snow in the far western U.P. Menominee County had good measurements, specifically in Daggett, which reported around seven inches in the late morning. Garden had about six inches in the early morning, while Manistique had about four. The city of Marquette right by the water had barely a dusting to an inch due to warm moderating influences from Lake Superior, said National Weather Service Observation Program Leader Jim Salzwedel, but immediately inland, totals jumped much higher.

At the water treatment plant in Escanaba, from the start of the storm Tuesday evening until 7 a.m. Wednesday, 1.15 inches of water was measured – that counts both rain and melted snow. This wintry mix is much wetter and denser than what falls during colder-temperature blizzards; usually, it has about a 10 to 1 snow to water ratio, but Salzwedel reported that the precipitation from this storm has a ratio of about 6 to 1.

The weight of the snow makes removal difficult for both plows and shovels. People are advised to be cautious and lift small loads. Those with heart conditions should be mindful to avoid overexertion.

In the south-central U.P. – around Escanaba and Gladstone – high winds continued Wednesday afternoon, with gusts up to 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Weather is expected to get milder overnight, with another potential inch of accumulation and winds reduced to 15 to 20 mph. Rain and snow showers are predicted for Thursday, with highs around 40 degrees.


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