Wind and snow sweeps western Upper Peninsula

MARQUETTE — After a bout of unseasonably warm weather, a winter storm is set to blast much of the Upper Peninsula with high winds and snow today, ushering in lake effect snow through the week.

The National Weather Service has issued a weather advisory, warning lake effect snow may create hazardous travel conditions. Sporadic tree damage and power outages are expected in the western and central U.P.

Upper Peninsula Power Co. on its website was reporting about 500 power outages this morning in Ishpeming, with a number of reports in Ontonagon and Houghton counties as well.

Ben Collins with the Marquette Board of Light and Power said about 50-100 customers in south Marquette, specifically Shiras Hills, lost power early this morning after a power line was damaged by trees felled from high winds. Crews were working to address the issue and power should be back later today, he said.

Many school districts in the northwestern and western U.P. are closed.

Meteorologist Brett Borchardt said a strong pressure system in Ontario moving north away from the area is responsible for the strong winds and snow today, which will be felt most acutely in the Keweenaw Peninsula westward.

Wind gusts of 67 mph were observed at Stannard Rock this morning, with a high of 60 mph seen in the Keweenaw, Borchardt said.

Ironwood had received about 6.3 inches of snow as of 9 a.m., with 1 to 3 inches falling along the Keweenaw. An additional 6 to 8 inches is expected throughout the day, mainly in the west, he said. Some lake effect snow is also likely in Munising and eastward.

No snow is expected in Marquette until later in the week, he said.

A wind advisory is in effect across the U.P., with gusts expected to reach 45 mph as the day progresses, strongest along the western shore. Borchardt said by nightfall, winds should start to die down over land, though it will remain windy over the lake through Wednesday morning.

As of 9 a.m., the Mackinac Bridge was closed to all vehicles except passenger cars, passenger vans and empty pickup trucks due to wind speeds in excess of 50 mph, according to the Mackinac Bridge Authority. The speed limit for all vehicles was reduced to 20 mph.

Borchardt said temperatures are expected to decrease steadily throughout the day.

“We’ll see single digits in the west-central U.P. and teens elsewhere,” Borchardt said. “So, definitely a lot colder than it’s been in the last few weeks.”

Temperatures reported at the National Weather Service station in Negaunee Township on Monday reached 50 degrees, tying a record originally set in 1961 and tied in 2015. Monday also saw record precipitation of .83 inches, with a previous record of .79 inches set in 2013, according to the NWS.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is mwardell@miningjournal.net.