The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Severe storm causes downed trees, power outages across Range

 

July 22, 2016

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

ThE REMAINS of trees that fell during an early Thursday morning storm rest at a playground at the Iron Belt, Wis., Community Center later that morning. The storm caused damage to trees and structures in the Iron County community along Wisconsin 77, cutting off power for a time.

A severe storm that slashed through northern Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula Thursday morning knocked down countless trees and power lines.

Scattered power outages were reported across the Gogebic Range after the early morning storm produced some 60 mph winds and heavy lightning.

The sudden storm around 4:30 a.m. dumped a half inch of rain on Ironwood at the Gogebic-Iron Wastewater Treatment Plant off Cloverland Drive, according to the National Weather Service office in Marquette. The rain fell in a short burst.

There was damage to property, including vehicles, throughout the Range.

Meanwhile, the NWS continued a dangerous heat wave warning for much of Minnesota and into northern Wisconsin, with highs in the 90s and heat indices of 103 to 113.

The storm hit Ontonagon Thursday around 7 a.m. with winds over 60 mph, and heavy rain. On some streets, the entire line of houses had downed trees.

Convenience store clerks could not get into their cash registers and were selling everything by hand.

Power was restored to some Ontonagon residents by 2 p.m.

The Upper Peninsula Power Company said thousands of its customers in the western U.P. in an area from Chassell west to Ontonagon County and north to Houghton and Keweenaw counties were still without power on Thursday afternoon.

The storm caused trees and branches to fall on three American Transmission Company lines and UPPCO crews had been working since early in the morning, patrolling the ATC lines and taking efforts to restore power.

UPPCO brought online its Portage peaker generating facility, enabling restoration of power to the majority of customers in Houghton. Power had been restored to the Aspirus Keweenaw hospital in Laurium.

After striking the western U.P., the storm moved eastward, causing outages in Marquette, Delta and Iron counties.

UPPCO's 24-hour electric emergency number is 800-562-7809. The number can also be used to report a downed tree or branches people find on power lines.

UP parks hit

The storm forced temporary closure of Emily Lake State Forest Campground and Twin Lakes State Park in Houghton County.

Power was out at F.J. McLain, Baraga, Fort Wilkins, Twin Lakes and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness state parks.

"We have extensive storm damage reported from Emily Lake State Forest Campground, which is located in Houghton County, just a couple of miles south of Twin Lakes State Park," said John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deputy public information officer. "Falling trees are reported to have caused significant damage to at least two travel campers. We will be closing the park temporarily."

No injuries to park visitors were reported. MDNR fire officers were working to cut their way into the campground with chainsaws.

The National Weather Service was expected to visit the rustic campground at Emily Lake to determine if the area was struck by a tornado.

Local firefighters were helping DNR staff clear downed trees at Twin Lakes State Park. At least one vehicle was damaged there.

MDNR park staff members were contacting visitors who had camping reservations scheduled over the next few days to inform them about the power outage, which reportedly may persist for a few days.

"Twin Lakes State Park is scheduled to reopen to local traffic (Thursday) afternoon," Pepin said. "However, certain areas of the park may be closed or inaccessible."

The MDNR cautioned the public to avoid the Emily Lake and Twin Lakes State Park areas while crews work to remove safety hazards.

In the Porcupine Mountains, park workers were helping county staff clear downed trees from County 107 on the east end of the park.

"Storm damage assessments are continuing this morning throughout the region," Pepin said.

 
 

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