3/10/2017 7:30:00 AM High winds cut through Oneida and Vilas counties
Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
Jim Hartmann points out some of the structural damage to his home after strong winds caused a large tree to fall on it Tuesday, March 7, in Lac du Flambeau.
Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
Ad-hoc stops signs replaced electric traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and State Highway 70 in Arbor Vitae after Tuesday’s severe winds caused power outages in the area.
The recent warm weather in the area proved too good to be true as high winds wreaked havoc throughout Oneida and Vilas counties this week.
Large portions of the state experienced high winds, with Wisconsin Public Service reporting 20,300 customers without power, while having restored power to 48,000 more as of Tuesday night.
WPS senior communications specialist Matt Cullen said Rhinelander and Eagle River were some of the largest municipalities experiencing power outages.
"I know we're still experiencing a large number of outages in those areas," Cullen said Wednesday morning. "At last check, it looks like have about 6,200 customers in the Minocqua area that are without power, we've got about 1,600 in the Rhinelander area and 2,500 in the Eagle River area that experiencing power outages at this time."
The reports for outages started coming in late Monday night and continued through Tuesday and Wednesday.
Residents throughout the Northwoods reported trees down, along with stop lights being out, as a gust of 61 miles per hour was recorded by the National Weather Service at Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, which tied for the fourth largest wind gust recorded in the state during the storm.
A gust of 52 miles per hour was also registered by the NWS at the Eagle River Airport at 3:55 p.m. on Tuesday.
Winds remained strong Wednesday morning with gusts as high as 49 miles per hour in Rhinelander and 43 in Eagle River just prior to 8 a.m.
The WPS anticipates that some could be without power into Thursday morning as the winds begin to subside.
"At this time, because winds continue to gust at 40 miles per hour, we're seeing additional outages still coming in today," Cullen said. "We'll have crews continuing to work throughout today, tonight and we anticipate that crews continue to work into Thursday to restore power to our customers."
Cullen also cautioned that it is possible for those who have lost and regained power, could lose power again due to the high winds.
As a result of the mass power outages, Oneida-Vilas County Emergency Management Offices issued a press release listing the 24-hour business that could be used as warming facilities for those without power.
"The areas that are designated for warming facilities - those facilities are open 24/7 for business anyways," program assistant Dawn Robinson said. "So it allows citizens to use a facility and warm up if they need to. Those facilities are already up and running for their regular operations."
Warming facilities were Trig's Riverwalk Centre Mall Seating in Rhinelander and Trig's Mall in Minocqua, Trig's Store Mezzanine Area in Eagle River, Wal-Mart Supercenters in Rhinelander and Minocqua, and the Eagle River Memorial Hospital Main Entrance.
As of press time Wednesday, WPS reported 23,000 customers without power, while restoring more than 81,000.
Roughly 5,900 customers in the Minocqua area were reportedly without power, along with 1,400 in Rhinelander and 2,575 in Eagle River.
Nick Sabato may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @SabatoNick.