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Spring storm plays trick on U.P.

April 1, 2008
MARQUETTE — Thousands of hearts were broken this morning when Mother Nature played a cruel April Fools’ Day prank and dumped from 1 to 20 inches of snow across the Upper Peninsula, forcing people around the region to once again break out their snow shovels.

Marquette County remained under a blizzard warning until 2 p.m. today. The rest of the U.P. is under a variety of warnings — including blizzard warnings, winter storm warnings and blowing snow advisories — until about 5 p.m.

High winds also knocked out power in parts of downtown this morning for about an hour, but was restored at about 9:25 a.m.

Dave Lynch, Marquette Board of Light and Power superintendent of distribution, said BLP crews have been working since 4 a.m.

“At about 4 this morning in Beaver Grove a tree came down and broke three poles off. We’ve since restored power there. That impacted about 1,200 customers,” he said.

At about 9:30 this morning there was an outage on County Road 480 affecting Chocolay, West Branch and Skandia townships, impacting about 700 customers, Lynch said.

“We’ll be battling this thing most of the day — the way we restore power here is we try to get the biggest number of customers on at any given time and then work back toward the smaller ones,” he said.

Lynch said he’s hoping power will be restored by noon, when winds are expected to die down.

“(The wind is) the biggest problem — with the ice on the trees the winds are just taking the trees down and causing issues,” he said.

The National Weather Service station in Negaunee Township recorded 20 inches of fresh snow at the station by 8:30 this morning. NWS officials said other areas of Marquette County got between 9 to 15 inches.

Ontonagon reported 5 inches, Painesdale in Houghton County received 4.5 inches, Watton in Baraga County got 6.2 inches, Iron Mountain 7.2 inches, Munising 9 inches, Bark River 2.5 inches and Newberry 3.5 inches.

Kari Seegel, a forecaster with the NWS in Negaunee Township, said the storm was a combination of a low pressure system and lake-effect snow.

“It’s a deep low pressure system currently oriented over northern Lake Huron,” she said. “It came in from the southwest and deepened over the Great Lakes region, producing a lot of snow.”

Seegel said strong winds, such as the 30 mph winds recorded in Big Bay, were helping to fuel blizzard conditions.

The severe weather caused the Marquette County Courthouse and service centers to reduce operations. All trials, hearings and scheduled appointments in the Marquette County Circuit Court, probate court and district court are adjourned and will be rescheduled.

It also caused the closure of Lakeshore Boulevard from Wright to Hawley streets this morning. It was scheduled to reopen later today.

The storm wasn’t bad news for everyone, though. More than 100 schools across the U.P. were closed today, giving kids and college students a day off.

Local police agencies saw a variety of incidents due to the weather, as well.

The city police departments, which patrol mostly business and residential areas, were not very busy this morning, mainly because of the large amounts of snow.

“So far, so good,” Ishpeming police Chief Jim Bjorne said. “Everyone is snowed in. No one can get out of their driveways so we don’t have a lot of people moving around a whole lot.”

The Marquette City Police Department echoed Bjorne’s comments, but added there were some hanging powerlines from the weight of the wet, sticky snow. For the Michigan State Police Post in Negaunee, things were a little more intense.

“It’s blizzard conditions across Marquette and Alger counties,” Sgt. Bob Pernaski said. “We have a lot of vehicles in the ditch, but nothing major.”

Pernaski said while the state police cannot ask motorists to stay off the road, he did recommend everyone evaluate the need to be out today.

“Just stay put if you can,” he suggested. “The snow is going to continue to fall and the roads are covered and very slippery. Everyone just needs to ask themselves how important it is that they be on the road.”

Article Photos

Motorists maneuver around a downed traffic light, at left, at the intersection of U.S. 41 and McClellan Avenue in Marquette this morning. (Journal photo by Kristen Kohrt)



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