MARQUETTE - High winds ripped across the Upper Peninsula Sunday night, causing power outages to more than 1,000 Upper Peninsula Power Company customers in 32 different areas.
This morning, the majority of those customers remaining without power were located in the Ishpeming area.
Ishpeming Public Schools closed down its middle/high school complex due to the lack of power, though students attending Birchview Elementary School still attended class today. Also canceled were two Young 5 and kindergarten classes. At St. John's Parish, an early childhood program and a nursing class were cancelled.
A tree lays on the ground near the Sugarloaf Villas in Marquette this morning after being snapped in half by high winds, which peaked between 40 to 45 mph in most areas across the Upper Peninsula. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
As of 10 a.m. today, 482 Ishpeming, 15 Gwinn and 70 Republic customers were still without power, along with a handful in Negaunee, Escanaba and Champion and areas in the western Upper Peninsula.
UPPCO released a statement this morning cautioning customers that power restoration may take some time.
"The wind is expected to abate somewhat later in the day. However, many UPPCO restoration crews worked through the night and will be unavailable to assist in restoration for several hours while they take a mandatory break to ensure they can work on high voltage lines safely," the statement said. "Wisconsin Public Service is sending some crews to assist. UPPCO hopes to get service restored to most customers by sometime this evening, depending on how many new outages occur during the day. Progress will be slow since most of the outages are scattered throughout the eastern service area and involve a small number of customers."
According to the National Weather Service station in Negaunee Township, wind gusts hit as high as 59 mph at Stannard Rock Sunday night, though much of the U.P. experienced gusts between 40 to 45 mph.
At the weather service office, wind gusts peaked at 44 mph between midnight and 1 a.m.
In the Marquette area, wind gusts were responsible for knocking down trees, one of which fell on a vehicle on Sugarloaf Avenue, according to the Marquette Police Department.
A suspected fiber optic cable break has also knocked out 9-1-1 service to Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties, according to Michigan State Police at the Negaunee Township post.
Sgt. Kevin Dowling said the Negaunee Regional Communication Center has been fielding 9-1-1 calls from those counties since 9 p.m. Sunday.
"The phone company has the ability to reroute those 9-1-1 calls to about anywhere you want," Dowling said. "Since their system has a break in it ... we're taking those calls and dispatching their police, fire and EMS service until they get their system up and running again."
Locally, Dowling said central dispatch has received a few calls alerting them to downed trees and power lines, but it wasn't a "real significant problem with the wind so far."
Weather service officials expected winds to have gradually died down by late morning today as a high pressure system moves in from the west, pushing out the low pressure area causing much of the windy weather.
Marquette, Houghton and Keweenaw counties remained under a wind advisory until 1 p.m. today, while Alger, Luce and Mackinac counties remained under a high wind warning.
Chippewa County remains under a flood warning until this evening, after more than 2 inches of rain caused the Pine River near Rudyard to exceed its flood stage of 17 feet.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.