The first winter storm of the season made travel Wednesday morning nearly impossible throughout the Northland but it was winding down by Wednesday evening.
Lake effect snow lingered over Wisconsin's South Shore Wednesday and was expected to drop a few more inches throughout the night for Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties, the National Weather Service in Duluth said. North winds diminished, as well, offering additional relief from the blowing and drifting snow they system brought earlier in the day.
But, you can expect another dose of winter weather, as a slow-moving storm promises to bring a prolonged period of snow to the Northland Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.
The Weather Service advised: "We have low confidence in exact totals at this time, but widespread amounts of over 6 inches are possible. There may also be periods of drizzle or freezing drizzle."
Much of Duluth received about 7 inches of snow with Gary-New Duluth on the high side at about 8.5 inches already Wednesday morning. However, areas in lake-effect snow bands saw greater accumulations. including a report of 15 inches in Ishpeming, Mich., as of Wednesday afternoon. In Wisconsin, Poplar reported 12 inches, Superior 10.4 inches and Cornucopia 10 inches.
North wind gusts of 35-45 mph on land and winds as high as 40-50 mph along Wisconsin's South Shore were forecast to produce waves of 10-17 feet on Lake Superior Wednesday, raising fears of lakeshore flooding from Oak Point to Saxon Harbor, Wis., the Weather Service warned.
Steve Gohde, an observation program leader at the National Weather Service office in Duluth, said a 55 mph wind gust was recorded 7 miles west of the Apostle Islands' Sand Island by the freighter Edgar B. Speer at about 4 a.m. Wednesday. The Blatnik Bridge recorded a gust of 51 mph at 11:21 p.m. Tuesday, Gohde said.
The Madeline Island Ferry Line canceled all Wednesday ferry trips to and from Bayfield and Madeline Island due to high wind and waves. And, because the La Pointe mail and retail clerk take the ferry to work each day, the U.S. Postal Service also canceled all mail and retail services to La Pointe on Wednesday.
Xcel Energy reported numerous power outages throughout northwestern Wisconsin. Almost 400 customers were without power near Ashland on Wednesday morning.
The city of Duluth said in a news release that its plows were out "in full force" clearing streets Wednesday morning and cautioned drivers to stay off the roads. In a release, the city continued to advise no unneccessary travel until Thursday morning.
The city said warm ground temperatures and rain forced drivers to add chains to their plows.
The Duluth Police Department responded to multiple weather-related car crashes, including a multiple-car pileup on 21st Avenue East in Duluth. Police did not respond to any weather-related crashes Tuesday night, said Lt. Tim Jazdzewski in an email to the News Tribune.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s online road report, portions of U.S. Highway 53; Highway 61; Minnesota Highways 23, 73 and 210 ; and U.S. Highway 2 were “completely covered” in snow as of Wednesday evening. However, plows dispatched to those roads worked all day to stay on top of the situation, said Pippi Mayfield, MnDOT public engagement and communications director.
Major roadways in Northwestern Wisconsin remained treacherous in places, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's online road report, with U.S. Route 2 still listed as snow-covered Wednesday night and "slippery stretches" reported on Highway 35 and U.S. Highway 53.
Another storm Friday
As the first storm moves out of the region, the Weather Service is turning its attention to the next winter storm, which could begin dumping snow on the region Friday afternoon and last about 36 hours.
“There’s a lot of questions yet for what’s going to be happening, but the holiday weekend is really been bookended by two storms,” Gohde said.
It’s too early to forecast potential snow totals, Gohde said.
“We could have a significant snow event for the weekend,” Gohde said.