An Oneida County patrol truck works southbound U.S. Highway 51 in downtown Minocqua early Sunday afternoon. Photo by Dean Hall/Lakeland Times.
An Oneida County patrol truck works southbound U.S. Highway 51 in downtown Minocqua early Sunday afternoon. Photo by Dean Hall/Lakeland Times.
By the time this past weekend was over, the first two snowstorms of winter 2019-20 had more than left a mark. 

The first system, which came through and hit the Lakeland area beginning very late the night of Tuesday, Nov. 26 and into Wednesday, Nov. 27, dumped an average of about a foot of snow. 

Heavy, wet snow caused power outages all over the Wisconsin Public Service area. 

Town and county road crews and private contractors worked to keep roads, parking lots and private drives cleared of snow. 

In one instance, how the snow was dealt with by a town crew was called into question by Jim Peardon, owner of Wally’s Barbershop in downtown Woodruff.

After a discussion with Peardon, town chairman Mike Timmons, in explaining to The Lakeland Times on Friday, Nov. 29, that Woodruff has a three-person crew and 50 miles of roads which need to come first, said he plans to have the town’s snow removal policy and procedure as an item on the town board’s Dec. 10 meeting agenda.

Meanwhile, WPS crews and electrical personnel contracted by WPS worked ceaselessly as well. 

“Our crews continue to face difficult winter driving conditions as some roads are impassable,” WPS spokesperson Amy Jahns said in a press release on Thanksgiving Day. “Be assured that every available resource is working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Crews have put their personal Thanksgiving plans on hold to help get power restored.”

That power to thousands of WPS customers just in the Lakeland area was restored, for the most part, by the end of the day Friday. 

However, that wasn’t the end of the snow. 

There was a bit of a dusting Saturday and then overnight, another several inches of snow was dumped. 

Once again, road crews and private contractors went to work, clearing roads, parking lots and private drives. 

As far as power outages Sunday, however, the outage map on the WPS website told a different story for the Lakeland area as of 2 p.m. 

There were a few outages, but nowhere near what had to be dealt with earlier. 

“The characteristics of this week’s storms have been very similar — multiple inches of heavy, wet snow and strong wind gusts around 30 miles per hour,” WPS spokesman Matt Cullen told The Lakeland Times on Sunday. “Those factors have led to additional weight, tree limbs and trees coming into contact with our power lines and equipment, causing the outages. This is similar to what we’ve seen throughout our service area.”

Jahns said any storm’s potential impact “is obviously something” WPS takes into consideration. 

“We keep close tabs on the weather and its forecasted path,” she said. “We staff areas appropriately and also check our inventory to make sure we are prepared with wires, poles and other equipment we may need if a power outage occurs.”

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.