The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Storm sets two records; lightning strikes Globe


December 6, 2017

Larry Holcombe/Daily Globe

TOM BARTLEY uses his snowblower in front of his home on Lowell Street in Ironwood Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service reported 6.2 inches of snow fell overnight in Ironwood.


A violent lightning storm dumped heavy rain on the Gogebic Range Monday night before turning into a wind-driven snowstorm.

The bizarre early December storm included everything from temperatures in the lower 50s to rainfall so heavy that vehicles had to pull over on the highways to wait out the deluge. A stiff drop in temperatures then produced thick layers of ice on roadways.

The talk on the streets turned from warm weather to windchill readings.

A total of 6.2 inches of snow fell on Ironwood and it mixed with the rain.

Around 8 p.m. Monday, lightning struck the Daily Globe building on McLeod Avenue as the news staff and press workers were preparing to publish the Tuesday edition. Some workers said the building shook with the blast.

While most of the building still had electricity and work designing pages was able to continue; the strike damaged the printing press, so the paper couldn't be published. The press had been repaired by Tuesday afternoon and subscribers were scheduled to receive two editions of the paper today, weather permitting.

A winter weather advisory remained in effect until 6 p.m. today, with continuing lake effect snow probable, according to the National Weather Service. A wind advisory was also posted.

There were scattered power outages throughout the area and schools closed classes for the day Tuesday, including Gogebic Community College. Businesses remained open Tuesday, however, after the snow had slacked off.

Parking lots and sidewalks turned to glare ice as the return of cold temperatures made both walking and driving hazardous.

The nearly constant lightning bolts began late Monday afternoon and carried through until about midnight, when heavy snow began falling. It had changed to lake-effect snow by Tuesday afternoon.

At the Gogebic-Iron Wastewater Treatment Plant off U.S. 2 in Ironwood, a total of 1.16 inches of precipitation was reported for the 24-hour period to 7 a.m. Tuesday, with 6.2 inches of snow.

The high of 53 degrees for the 24-hour period set a 116-year record for Ironwood. The low dipped down to 19.

The 1.16 inches of precipitation also set a Dec. 5 Ironwood record. Had it been all snow, around 16 inches would have fallen.

There were unofficial reports of three to four inches of rain in the area during the storm.

With unseasonably mild temperatures for the previous week that melted most of the previous snow cover, Ironwood's fall snow total is now 33.5 inches, below the long-term average of 39.5 inches on Dec. 5.

The Ironwood Public Safety Department responded to three complaints of alarms being set off by the lightning, but there were few other storm-related complaints. An Ironwood woman whose vehicle was damaged during the storm on the Wisconsin side of the U.S. 51-U.S. 2 overpass stopped in the McDonald's restaurant parking lot. There was minor damage to the vehicle and officers said the accident report had to be completed in Wisconsin.

There were numerous reports of vehicles in ditches.

Around noon on Tuesday, the IPSD reported the traffic light at the U.S. 2-Douglas Boulevard intersection was malfunctioning, flashing red only. The Michigan Department of Transportation was contacted.

Storm widespread

There were longer power outages at the other end of the Upper Peninsula as the heavy winds took a toll. Low visibility and poor road conditions there made driving a challenge as rain turned to sleet, then snow.

Some areas of northern Minnesota received nearly a foot of snow during the Monday-Tuesday storm.

The National Weather Service office in Marquette issued a Lake Superior gale warning through noon today. Waves of 16 to 24 feet were possible.

The highest waves were expected Tuesday evening.


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