Winter won’t release grip on Upper Peninsula

ESCANABA – Heavy snows hit the Upper Peninsula Thursday night producing dangerous road conditions and forcing many schools to close today.

“This snow fell over a nine hour period for the most part,” noted Todd Kluber, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Marquette office.

According the Escanaba Water Plant, which keeps records of snow totals, the city received five inches of snow – bringing the season’s total to 67.3 inches. Residents can expect to see between one and two inches of snow falling throughout the day as the storm system tapers off.

“It’s not like the same intensity that we saw overnight. The majority of the heavier system has left the area,” said Kluber.

According to Kluber, Thursday night’s heavy storms were caused by a slow moving system in the upper Mississippi valley and high moisture transfer from the Gulf of Mexico.

“That’s why it was so wet,” said Kluber.

Winds during the storm averaged around 20 miles per hour overnight with gusts reaching up to 30 miles per hour. The strongest winds occurred during the late afternoon and early evening Thursday with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

Many are hoping that this is the end of winter storms for the area, but according to Kluber that may not be the case.

“We’re not done with snow yet, but we’re getting to where it’s warm enough that the systems aren’t likely to stay snow,” said Kluber.

Two systems are making their way into the area for the coming week. Sunday afternoon a storm system is expected to enter the area. The system is expected to bring snow Sunday and transition into rain by Monday morning. A second system is expected to reach the area Wednesday. This system is also predicted to start as snow and then transition into rain by Thursday.

“We all want to be done (with the storms),” laughed Kluber.

Motorists are especially affected by the severe weather. The wet, heavy snow from the storm left roads wet and slippery, but the Escanaba Department of Public Works has had plows running since 2:30 a.m. working to remedy the situation.

“We’ve got the salt truck out and following the plow, but people need to realize to slow down and drive carefully,” noted Steve Ammel, assistant superintendent of Public Works.

County road crews are also working to keep the roads safe for motorists.

“Our crews came in at 3:30 this morning,” said Rob VanEffen, managing director of the Delta County Road Commission. He added the heavy snow was more difficult to deal with, but road crews had already started on highways and some local roads by 8:30 a.m.

Road conditions forced many area schools to close today including Bark River-Harris, Big Bay de Noc, Escanaba, Gladstone, Holy Name, Mid Peninsula, Delta-Schoolcraft ISD, Manistique, Hannahville, St. Francis de Sales and Rapid River.