Harsh cold in area

ISHPEMING – With much of the U.P. blanketed in bitter cold – and some areas fortunate enough to see today’s high temperatures rise to the single digits – there have nonetheless been relatively few accidents related to icy roads. Marquette County municipalities remain ready to tackle both road conditions and other potential problems caused by cold, such as breaks in water mains and other infrastructure challenges.

Other than a few minor incidents of cars sliding off the road, The Michigan State Police post in Negaunee Township hasn’t responded to any problems caused by icy roads, according to Trooper Brent Rosten.

Marquette City police said that they had seen several minor accidents yesterday – they also responded to one on US-41 in front of the Marquette Branch Prison – but weren’t sure if they were related to the cold temps or icy road conditions.

Unfortunately, residents of much of the U.P. will be “looking at cold weather continuing through this week,” said David Petrovich, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Negaunee Township. By the end of the week, however, “we’ll at least be up to seasonably cold temperatures, with highs in the teens.”

Petrovich said while the cold may seem extreme, temperatures are only a bit below average.

“The past two years, the U.P. has been fairly spoiled, both on temperatures and amounts of snow,” he said. “So this season we’re seeing a lot of cooler temperatures, and as a result of that right now we’ve been getting some fair amounts of lake effect snow.”

Normal highs this time of year are about 23 and lows around 8. The record low is about 20 below zero, Petrovich said, so “we’re below normal, but it’s not as bad as it could get.”

Carl Petersen, foreman at the Ishpeming Department of Public Works, said the city has seen three more water main breaks as a result of the weather, but said that DPW employees are monitoring the temps and taking all the necessary precautions, including opening some dead-end sections of the water mains as “let runs,” where the running water will keep the main from freezing. DPW plow crews also worked last night to make sure the streets are cleared of snow, though Petersen said they’ll have to wait for the weather to warm a bit before they can attend to the layers of ice that coat road surfaces.

If venturing outdoors in this weather, Petrovich advises to take the usual precautions, “all the same things we’ve heard millions of times.”

“Keep the head covered, keep something on the hands,” he said. “If you’re doing activities outside, of course, you know, dressing in layers works better. That way you can remove some layers to keep yourself from sweating inside and then chilling off then when you stop sweating.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.