Snow, snow, snow!

Winter weather buries Ontonagon in more than two feet of snow


February 26, 2019

Submitted photo

Snow piles up around a stop sign in Ontonagon Sunday. The area received nearly 29 inches of snow.



The snow started in the late hours of Saturday and by the time it stopped over 13 inches blanketed the Gogebic Range. Then came the winds.

The National Weather Service in Marquette recorded wind speeds of up to 51 mph in Wakefield and 46 mph at the Gogebic-Iron County Airport.

These high winds caused snow drifts and limited visibility across the area, forcing local authorities to urge people to avoid driving unless necessary.

Those who didn't heed the warning found the decision may have been taken out of their hands, with the drifting snow making various side roads impassable.

The weekend's storm forced numerous businesses and schools to close early or all together over the course of Sunday and Monday, as the area recovered the winter's latest storm.

Ontonagon snow

To the east, Ontonagon is also slowly digging out of the nearly 29 inches of snow which blanketed the region on Sunday.

Village and county crews worked during the storm as winds gusting to 60 mph caused huge drifts. The Ontonagon County Sheriff's Department called in additional help and the road crews worked to free some motorists stranded in drifts in the middle of the roadways.

With the high winds whipping off Lake Superior, many residents were bracing for power outages and there were patches of short-term outages throughout the village. Upper Peninsula Power crews were called out and most power was restored in about two hours.

The cleanup was complicated by the fact that a week ago the 1 to 2 inches of snow predicted by the weather service turned into 13 inches.

Ontonagon County Road Commission and village crews were just getting that snow taken care of and had two days to start knocking down banks when Sunday's snow and high winds dumped more.

Mike Maloney, Ontonagon County engineer, said every road employee was out working in the storm. "We even had the foremen plowing snow. It seemed almost useless as we would plow one area to find it fully filled in one hour later."

He said the Road Commission would get calls from the Sheriff's Department or 911.

"One man called and was stuck in a cabin he had rented with cell phone running out. We got to him and got him out," Maloney said, adding the snow was so deep in drifts that he would send out two plows to some areas. "One plow would attack the snow and the second one was there to get the first plow out because it would get stuck."

Maloney and members of the OCSD added a "hats off" to the power company crews. "Those guys had to get out and find the breaks and got power restored quickly. It was really brutal out there,'" he said.

When Ontonagon residents awoke Monday morning the area was shut down.

High drifts piled against doors Many business places were unable to open because the snow was waist deep in spots. Ontonagon and Ewen-Trout Creek schools were called off, their 10th such cancellation so far this winter. The first round of the Class D district tournament at Ewen-Trout Creek, scheduled for Monday, was postponed to Tuesday, and will run Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Many businesses, if they opened at all, opened late.

One Bruce Crossing woman Julie Linna, said she was looking out her window in the storm and saw five lumps of snow under a tree across the road. She watched as the "lumps" began to move. "There were five small deer all curled up taking refuge from the storm," she said.

Nancy Murray, who lives on the lakeshore of Lake Superior near Green and plows the long driveway into the home she shares with her mother, Lois, who retired as a National Weather Service reporter, said the snow is a lot to handle. "There is just no place to put all this snow," Nancy said.


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