Power being restored for Cook County residents
Much of the county has experienced power outages this weekend as the region was hit by wind gusts of up to 74 mph. Conditions began to improve going into Christmas Day.
GRAND MARAIS — As Christmas Eve gave way to Christmas Day and the latest winter storm loosened its grip on the Northland, a major piece of the countywide power outage in Cook County was solved, but many scattered outages remained.
"The transmission outage has been resolved and we are back on main grid power," Arrowhead Electric Cooperative wrote on its Facebook page Saturday night. "Crews are still working to resolve scattered outages around the county."
On Sunday afternoon, Arrowhead Electric Cooperative reported that "Our Crews are working hard to restore power to all members. The Grand Portage area will experience an outage this afternoon so the crews can safely repair a broken hazard pole and restore service to many who have been out of power. Please call 218-663-7239 if your power is out for more than a few hours."
Cook and Lake counties were in winter weather and wind chill advisories Saturday evening, the National Weather Service reported. The conditions were downgraded from a blizzard warning Saturday afternoon, but dangerous conditions of wind chills and blowing snow still impacted the region.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office reported Friday evening that most of the county was impacted by power outages, and a Saturday afternoon update from Arrowhead Electric Cooperative stated the outages were still impacting the entire county at 4 p.m. Saturday and crews were working to determine the problem and restore power.
Sheriff Pat Eliasen said no estimates for restoration could be given, but crews were working on it while battling the weather. No representatives from Arrowhead Electric were available to provide additional information about the number of people impacted by outages.
People experiencing extended power outages are encouraged to call the sheriff's office at 218-387-3030. Dispatch will connect callers with Cook County Health and Human Services, who will help provide resources for places to stay or a place to get warm.
The National Weather Service of Duluth reported wind gusts of up to 60 mph on Saturday, with the highest gusts in Grand Marais, Silver Bay, Two Harbors and downtown Duluth. NWS recorded a gust of 74 mph Friday in the bay of Grand Marais.
Moose Tracks, a clothing and souvenir shop on Wisconsin Street in Grand Marais, reported losing part of its roof to wind gusts on Friday. The adjacent business, The Market, which is on the corner of Wisconsin Street and Broadway Avenue, was also damaged. On Facebook, the Moose Tracks page posted that no one was injured and the store was closed when the damage occurred.
"Due to safety concerns we will not be open today," the Moose Tracks Facebook page posted Saturday morning. "There is still sheet metal flopping above the Market and not sure about above Moose Tracks. Please use caution if you are around these buildings for flying debris."
North House Folk School in Grand Marais reported it lost the timber frame on its dock to the wind gusts.
"... Luckily, it avoided doing any damage to the boats, dock, or any other buildings, so we consider ourselves very fortunate!" North House Folk School wrote on Facebook on Saturday morning.
Sunday expected to improve
The National Weather Service of Duluth is forecasting slightly better conditions for Christmas Day. Wind speeds are expected to decrease by noon Sunday, with gusts of about 30-45 mph in the Twin Ports region. Grand Marais, Grand Portage and Silver Bay gusts will continue to reach up to 60 mph through Sunday morning. Winds will be strongest along the North Shore on Saturday evening.
Snow-loaded trees are still vulnerable to sustain additional damage and cause further outages in the region. As of noon Saturday, Minnesota Power was not reporting any outages in the Northland.
Cook and Lake counties are in a winter weather advisory through Saturday night, while the rest of the region's counties are in wind chill advisories through Saturday night. Wind chills will remain dangerous, as 40 degrees below zero Sunday morning.
Lake-effect snow continues to fall on the South Shore, with 16 inches reported in the last 24 hours and up to 8 inches expected throughout Saturday. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is also in a winter weather advisory, downgraded Saturday afternoon from a blizzard warning.
This story was updated at 4:20 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 25 to add updated power outage information from Arrowhead Electric Cooperative. It was originally posted at 12:40 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24.