Beauty and the Beast

I’m really hoping to get this one completely done tonight, but my body is telling me I need to rest, after all the hustle and bustle of moving, unpacking, putting things in their place. Getting the house ready for company and Thanksgiving, as well as getting all the things that had been left outside until the bitter end, inside and safe from the pending storm. The storm itself provided its fair share of work as well.

The moving, unpacking and much of the setup was done by Monday evening. Tuesday, I hustled over to the place where we lived in the camper. I had one last thing to bring over and that was a pretty important piece. It was the snowthrower for Big Red. The transport of that went pretty well, although it did take me a bit longer than I had anticipated. The rest of Tuesday was spent getting things around the shop moved from the outside to the inside. Most of those items were large and heavy, like the hydraulic motorcycle lift I have for my snowmobile. A heavy, cast iron workbench that used to be my grandfathers. A table saw and all of my scaffolding. I also got a light put in for the AL Cam, just as the sun was setting.

I did not sleep too well Tuesday night. The storm was the talk of the town and although the snow was not suppose to start until around midnight, I began my night watch of looking out the window to see if it was snowing yet at around 10 am. Each time I checked, the ground was still green. By around 3 pm, I knew something had gone wrong, so I gave it another 30 minutes or so and then headed over to the shop/office to see what was up. My commute was a wet one, with a pouring rain and a temp of around 35.

My first check was the webcams, which revealed it was snowing in the higher terrain and a rain-snow mix was falling in Houghton/Hancock. That and a look at the regional observations let me know that the snows were still coming, but that the change over to snow was late in the lower elevations. Our change over took place around 6:45. First as a mix of rain and snow and then all snow. Big, wet and sticky flakes.

I lost my satellite internet service around 7 am and then the power flickered a few times and then went out for good at 7:15 am. By that time I was over with Nora, Grace and our company for the holiday period. A nice breakfast was made using the grill. We all figured the storm had brought down a tree that knocked out the power and things would be back to normal in a few hours.

It snowed very heavily until around noon and then moderately to heavy the rest of the day. We picked up around 10-11″ of snow between 7:30 and 11:30 and then another 3-4 the rest of the day. At around 10 am, I decided to hop in Big Red and move some snow. I was not able to get the blower attached, as we ran out of daylight, but I did have the loader and bucket. I got the shop driveway cleared and was working on the driveway for the house when the first vehicle of the day came down the road. It was a county road worker. He was in a pickup and was going along and cutting trees that had fallen across the road. We had one near us, but that was all I saw. I asked how many trees he had cut so far and his reply was “I stopped counting at 50”. Yikes! The magnitude of the damage was beginning to become a little more clear.

So while we were all marveling at how incredibly beautiful things were with the heavy and wet snow clinging to everything, we were soon to learn that the damage it did down here in Jacobsville was beastly. Here is a shot of our road with the single set of tracks from the county pick up and the downed tree.

Not long after the pickup went through, the grader came through. Plowing the snow and also pushing the cut trees off the road…all at the same time. Here is a shot of our road after the grader had gone through. Once the grader had gone through, we did a little more exploring of the area. Nora went with her brother and sister-in-law in the truck to check things out. I was a little worried they would get stranded, as the snow was still coming down, the winds still blowing hard and trees and limbs were still falling. They managed to get back to the house, but not without some dramatics. Trees had fallen after they had passed and they did come to a point were the road was totally blocked, but were able to work around those that fell where they had come from and got home. I went on foot with Huck and took some pics of things near our house.

The sight was rather surreal, with everything coated in snow. What had happened is that when the rain changed to snow, the snow turned to slush on the trees, then temps dropped below freezing and that froze and became ice. More snows fell and the strong winds took trees down that had been standing for over 60 years. Some of the trees then fell on the powerlines.

By later in the afternoon, we ventured out of Jacobsville to see how the rest of the region fared. We had heard about some other power outages, but they seemed to be fixed rather quickly. As we traveled up the first mile or two of the Jacobsville Road, it became apparent it was not just one, or two trees, but dozens that had fallen across the powerlines. In that 1-2 mile stretch, there were only 2 sections between the poles that still had wire hanging between them.

My brother-in-law and I traveled up to Mohawk to borrow the old portable generator I had donated to the snowmobile club. The more north and higher in elevation we went, the less snow that was sticking to things and it even looked like Calumet and Mohawk had possibly picked up less snow than we did, although it was plowing like a hurricane in both spots, so it was hard to tell, with all the snow being moved around by the wind.

We went to bed with no power. Woke up on Thanksgiving to no power. Spent all of Thanksgiving day and night without power. Despite no power, we were all able to work together and produce a nice traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We had planned to have other over, but with the storm and no power, decided to tell the others not to come.

Friday morning broke with the power still off. Spirits were starting to sag a little, as it seemed like we were the only ones without power. We had seen two power company vehicles down our way Thanksgiving night. One a linesman’s truck and the other just a pickup. I believe they did not know the extent of the damage down here and when those workers showed up and saw all that had been done, did what they could and then headed back to return with a proper-sized crew the next day.

We were eating a late breakfast in Lake Linden Friday morning when we saw a parade of power company vehicles pass by. Seeing as though we were the only ones in the direction they were heading still without power, we knew the cavalry had arrived! On the way back to the house Friday morning we came across the crews staging for the work ahead of them and gave them a cheer as we drove by. There was at least 5, possibly 6, linesmen trucks, several pickups and even the semi, pulling the tracked vehicle that can pretty much go anywhere to fix things. It took most of the day, but by 6:45, 59 1/2 hours after the power had gone out, the lights came back on. Even though I suspect none of the workers are reading this, I would still like to thank them for all of their hard work. Not just in our mess down here, but for all the work they did to fix what this beast of a storm had done.

I did get a chance to chat with a few of the workers when they had finished up and were waiting for the last fuse to be put in and the lines energized. One said that he has been working for over 25 years and has never seen an area hit this hard. So I guess we all earned our stickers for making it through without losing our marbles.

The ground was bare Tuesday night and we now have 16″ on the ground!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..