Ice storm devastates North Shore communities
It didn't take long to hear the first one. Then another. Sometimes you'd see them fall. Usually it was just that bristling sound. Thousands of trees were crashing to the ground along the North Shore hills Tuesday, succumbing to the weight of an i...
It didn't take long to hear the first one. Then another. Sometimes you'd see them fall. Usually it was just that bristling sound.
Thousands of trees were crashing to the ground along the North Shore hills Tuesday, succumbing to the weight of an inch or more of ice from the devastating storm. Side roads and driveways were blocked and lines down, leaving thousands without power from rural Two Harbors to Grand Portage.
"I think in the five minutes or so we were sitting here in the truck eating some lunch we saw five trees fall. They just keep dropping,'' said Brad Voltz, a Lake County Highway Department equipment operator. "What a mess.''
Voltz and crew partner Mark Udenberg were trying to move downed trees off Lake County Road 3, along the back ridge of the North Shore hills, using chainsaws and brute strength. But they weren't making much headway.
Temperatures Monday and early Tuesday hovered at or just below freezing during a steady rainfall, leaving everything entombed in ice. The rain stopped for much of Tuesday, letting temperatures creep above freezing. But the ice was slow to melt, and more freezing rain is expected early today before temperatures finally climb above
Power had been restored to most residents in Knife River, Two Harbors and Silver Bay on Tuesday afternoon, but still was out in Beaver Bay and most rural areas.
At the Finland Cooperative General Store, customers searched for goods in the dark and paid in cash, with transactions recorded on a legal pad instead of a cash register and bar codes left useless.
Dan Peterson was buying a new lantern battery.
"I've got a radio working and now I'll have a lantern, so I can listen to the radio and read. That's all I need,'' Peterson said of making do in his Lax Lake cabin.
But Don Adams, the store's manager, and assistant manager Ann Unruh were busy filling shopping carts with frozen foods melted to oblivion and tossing them into a Dumpster.
"It's all ruined,'' Adams said. "We've got insurance. But it doesn't pay for all the time we have in to this.''
A few miles outside Silver Bay, Denise Harrison was pondering whether to keep her generator hooked up to the sump pump.
"It's either keep the basement from flooding or get some heat,'' she said.
Lake County's Cooperative Light and Power said nearly half of its 5,600 customers may have been without electricity at some point during the storm.
Most main lines should be restored by the weekend but it may be "many days'' until secondary lines are back, said Sarah Cron of the Two Harbors-based utility.
"It looks like a war zone,'' she said of the snapped-off trees.
Arrowhead Electric Cooperative in Cook County said all but about 100 customers had the electricity on by Tuesday afternoon.
Bill Nixon, a Lake County forester, said crews will be planning to do aerial surveys of damage to trees within days.
While a lesser ice storm hit the Twin Ports earlier Monday, temperatures at the Head of the Lakes rose above freezing. The same happened in downtown Two Harbors. Over the hill, it was a different world.
"I've never seen ice like this before,'' said Neil McGiverin, a Silver Creek Township resident using a battery-powered reciprocating saw to clear brush in his yard -- until the battery died.
There were no major injuries reported except for an accident Monday on Highway 61 that was blamed on icy roads.
More rain will fall overnight and could cause more ice to build up, said Carol Christenson of the National Weather Service in Duluth. But temperatures should rise above freezing by midday today.
The melting won't last long, however, with some snow expected by tonight.