May 2, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 103

Bridges closed as Montreal rises; heavy snow forecast for today

IRONWOOD — Can the weather get any worse?

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe
WATER FLOWS over Poplar Street in Hurley and West Norrie Street in Ironwood on Wednesday. The area roadway was closed because of flooding from the Montreal River.

The Ironwood area was under both winter storm and flooding advisories Wednesday from the National Weaether Service office in Marquette.

Both the Silver and Poplar Street border bridges on the Montreal River were closed to traffic Wednesday because of rising water levels as crews piled sandbags to protect businesses.

Sandbags piled four high were stacked up in case the river washed over the bridge on Silver Street. As of Wednesday afternoon, the river hadn’t flowed over the bridge, but the residential area around the Poplar Street bridge was flooded.

The detour from Silver and Poplar Streets sent motorists to U.S. 2 through Ironwood. There was also a lot of water along the Michigan-Wisconsin U.S. 2 bridge on the river, but it didn’t appear to be in danger of overflowing, as at the other two sites.

Four days of temperatures in the 60s and 70s resulted in snowmelt accounting for most of the high water, as swamps and lowland areas fed the raging river.

There was a lot of work being done in preparation for even higher water.

Residents of Ironwood’s Silver, Hemlock and Cedar streets were warned of the impending flooding.

Sandbags were stacked surrounding Pizza King Joe’s and other businesses Wednesday afternoon. Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, the water was within six inches of the beam on the Silver Street bridge, with a few inches of sticky snow falling.

The Iron County Highway Department removed some potential tree jams from the west branch of the Montreal along U.S. 2 in Kimball on Tuesday afternoon.

Complicating the situation was the issuance of a winter storm warning for Gogebic County Wednesday evening and today. There was a 100 percent chance of snow, with 6 to 11 inches possible from the storm, meaning another inch of precipitation was likely on its way.

The temperature dipped to 33 degrees in Ironwood at 4 p.m. Wednesday and the skies turned black as the storm began.

The snow was expected to extend over western Gogebic County, mainly west of Marenisco.

The record for snowfall on May 2 in Ironwood in the past century is 6 inches in 1973.

Rain was forecast for the remainder of the Upper Peninsula.

The National Weather Service office in Marquette said the snow and slush was expected to add to the already overflowing streams.

Snow and freezing rain were also in the forecast for Friday and possibly Saturday.

Monday’s forecast is for mostly sunny skies and a high around 60.