EagleHerald/Penny Mullins
Sunday’s snowstorm left beautiful winter images, like this one from Menominee, all over the area. But the wet, heavy snow weighed down branches and took down trees, causing power outages and damage throughout the region.
EagleHerald/Penny Mullins

Sunday’s snowstorm left beautiful winter images, like this one from Menominee, all over the area. But the wet, heavy snow weighed down branches and took down trees, causing power outages and damage throughout the region.

Both counties experienced power outages, vehicle accidents and lots of snow during the first snowstorm of the season.

Marinette and Menominee counties were hit by a severe winter storm which started Saturday evening and lasted into Sunday evening.

“It’s pretty bad out there,” Menominee County Sheriff Kenny Marks said.

He said the weather was worse further north into the county, but all parts of Menominee County experienced the storm at some level.

Emergency Manager Thomas Philipps estimates that some parts of northern Menominee County received up to 15-16 inches.

“It hit hard,” Marks said. “People were stuck in the roads, there was zero visibility, there were whiteout conditions.”

Marks said both highways U.S. 41 and M-35 had dangerous road conditions, which eventually led to him declaring a snow emergency. He advised that no one drive Sunday unless absolutely necessary.

Drivers on M-35 experienced particularly dangerous conditions.

“On M-35, there were a lot of cars stuck right there on the highway,” Marks said. “There was a semi-truck stuck in the road. We got the people out and to safety but we had to leave their vehicles.”

He added that many of the vehicles didn’t veer off into the ditches and get stuck there but they simply got stuck on the side of the highway because the snow was too deep for them to move forward.

To accommodate people who were stranded on M-35, Cedarville Township was converted into an emergency shelter, Philipps said.

Anyone who got stuck while traveling Sunday was assisted by the county sheriff’s department and brought to safety, but ultimately they had to leave their vehicles behind.

“It was too dangerous to tow any vehicles during the storm. So there’s cars all up and down M-35 right now. Once the snow lets up, we will get out there and begin towing them,” Marks said.

“The road commission actually wanted me to shut down the road but I couldn’t do that, it’s not my call,” Marks said.

Both counties experienced car accidents, power outages and downed trees.

Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve said there were several crashes and a couple of rollovers throughout Marinette County, but there were no major injuries or fatalities.

“It was difficult to drive in and I encourage everyone to stay off the roads if they can,” he said. 

He added that his major concern with Sunday’s storm was the power outages many people in the area experienced.

“Myself, I was without power for nine hours today and I know there are a lot of people who are still without power,” Sauve said. “Fortunately, it didn’t get very cold today but with weather like this, power outages are always a major concern.”

At the time of reporting, approximately 4,700 Wisconsin Public Service costumers in the Marinette-Menominee area were still without power, said Matt Cullen, WPS senior communications specialist – media relations.

“One thing that should be noted is my data will likely change. It’s about 5:20 p.m. Sunday right now, but the storm is supposed to last until 9 tonight,” he said. Cullen said more power outages occurring during the course of the storm is a possibility and it will be difficult to see how the area was impacted by the storm until after it’s over and power is restored everywhere.

“We’ve had our crews out since 4 this morning and they’ve been working nonstop all day. They will continue to work well into Monday morning,” Cullen said.

Although the storm was worse further north, Philipps said the southern parts of the county were not spared from damage. Residents in the City of Menominee encountered poor road conditions, power outages and a few families in the city were displaced from their homes because of severe flooding. Philipps said these families are currently being assisted by the American Red Cross.

Further north, Philipps said he received a report of a barn collapsing on cattle at a dairy farm in Nadeau Township.

“I think the storm is letting up,” Marks said at about 4:15 p.m. Sunday. “Overall, I think we did pretty well.”

He added that, at the time, there had not been any injuries or deaths reported in Menominee County due to the weather conditions.

“I just want everyone to look out for each other and stay safe,” Sauve said.

Cullen said, if during the course of the storm or in the future, anyone comes across a downed power line to remain 25 feet away from it and contact local law enforcement agencies and WPS immediately.

He also noted that after severe winter storms, to prevent more damage, always ensure the area around your natural gas meters are clear of ice and snow. If they are covered, the extra weight can cause the piping to break which could lead to a natural gas leak. He added that ice and snow can also get onto the appliance vents, clogging them and causing carbon monoxide buildup in the house.

Both Menominee Area Public Schools and Stephenson Area Public Schools announced Sunday that classes would be canceled today.

The Marinette County Highway Department was also contacted, but was not immediately available.