Storm causes widespread closures

HOUGHTON – Winter has been working to make up for its slow start this year recently, and a system which moved through the Keweenaw starting Monday has added several inches of snow to the season totals.

Jason Alumbaugh, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Negaunee Township, said the system which moved into the western Upper Peninsula Monday pulled cold air from Canada and caused a lake effect snowfall.

Although he didn’t have reports from all the NWS spotters this morning, Alumbaugh said in a 24-hour period beginning Tuesday morning, 2.5 inches fell in Jacobsville and 11 inches fell in Calumet.

The weather system also caused strong wind gusts, which Alumbaugh said led to deep snow drifts in some areas. Gusts at the Houghton County Memorial Airport peaked at 52 mph Tuesday, and 43 mph at Copper Harbor.

The weather caused school closings Tuesday and today in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. Michigan Technological University closed at noon Tuesday and is closed today. Finlandia University initially delayed classes, then cancelled them altogether.

Despite the weather, hundreds of Tech students packed the Student Development Complex Multipurpose Room Tuesday afternoon for the “spring” Career Fair. Classes were cancelled after noon due to severe weather, but the fair continued through 6 p.m.

“We have a record number of companies here (about 230) for our Spring Career Fair, but then we got hit with the snowstorm and the school is closed. We’re still going, which is a major plus,” said Jim Turnquist, director of Career Services at Tech, who estimated only a half-dozen companies cancelled due to weather.

The City of Houghton provided transit up the hill to the SDC for students. Many related events, such as informational meetings and dinner gatherings were cancelled or postponed. Hotels were booked in the area as far south as Baraga, and space was available in residence halls for company representatives stranded by the storm.

There were strong winds Tuesday and today on Lake Superior, also, Alumbaugh said. At Stannard Rock, which is about 24 miles south of Manitou Island, winds of 59 mph were recorded. Waves on the lake ranged from 15 to 20 feet caused by a north wind, which could have an effect on the beaches.

“It’s going to pile (ice) up on the shore,” he said.

Alumbaugh said the system, which is passing through the Keweenaw, should subside through today. There will still be wind gusts of up to 40 mph this morning, diminishing to 30 mph tonight. The high today should be about 10 degrees, with lows tonight ranging from 0 to -10 degrees.

Local law enforcement agencies reported no major incidents Tuesday.

Winds should calm down Thursday with rising temperatures to 20 to 25 degrees.

“Tomorrow looks pretty nice,” he said. “By tomorrow, the winds will be fairly light.”

Highs could be about 30 Friday with some light snow, Alumbaugh said.