Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -
Two deep lows converged over the upper midwest Tuesday, fed by a high pressure system south of Hudson Bay. The combination delivered extreme low pressure to the area which in turn brought an abnormally strong and sustained flow of mild air from the south.
This developing storm, accurately predicted by meteorologists, began very early Tuesday morning (30-40 kts. southerly, with rain), gathered force during the day (40-50 kts by afternoon), and then winds increased yet again Tuesday evening into Wednesday (WSW gusts to 55-60 kts.).
Erik Foss, ferry captain, took the Robert Noble into Gills Rock for the first two trips of the day Tuesday, then back to Northport by noon as winds swung from S to SW. The 2 p.m. trip leaving the island became Tuesday’s last run. The Noble is shown above slogging against the wind on the route to Northport. This morning, with winds every bit as strong and sustained as predicted, all ferry trips were cancelled for the day.
Holding tight to safe anchorage in Hedgehog Harbor, was the Charles M. Beeghly with Eric Bonow, mate, on board. (Eric’s folks have a cottage just south of Europe Lake on the Lake Michigan shore.)
Eric responded by email late Tuesday as follows:
“Yes, that's us.
“I just got off watch (12-4 for us, 11-3 for you). We have a company-supplied wi-fi through a cellular set up. That's how I can email you so well.
“When I went on watch I saw the Noble at Gills Rock. The next went to Northport. The trip from GR had 3 for the Cherry Train! I wish I'd known it was Erik Thomas (Foss) on there; I'd a called. Arni (Foss) is sitting in Burns Harbor on the Stewart J. Cort waiting on weather.
“… the gusts here in the middle of the bay were 48 mph. Just as I was getting relieved, it blew stronger--sustained over 50 mph with one gust hitting 62 mph.
“I hope we stay here until at least Thursday early am. The weather on the lake must be horrendous. We have ore for Indiana Harbor from Duluth. We came across from Lansing Shoal to Rock Island. As we got to Rock Island, it was getting crummy. That was about 7:30 am your time. Yes, that's the Indiana Harbor outside there. You can look at this site and see all the boats anchored all over. It is based on google maps, so you can scroll and then zoom into an area of interest.
“The captain made some crack about me taking the workboat and going ashore. I told him that if I go, I'm not coming back. Only a few more days until vacation, and I'm really looking forward to it.”
Mary Jo and I took a ride in the early evening Tuesday, around 8 p.m., and saw the deck lights of the Beeghly and the Indiana Harbor against the Door Peninsula. (The Indiana Harbor dropped anchor in the open waters approximately one mile west of Door Bluff.) We envied the mainlanders then, because we had no power – island wide - having lost it around 4 p.m. The mainland WPS line was knocked out, and the two REA CAT standby generators have a switching problem that needs to be repaired. Unfortunately, CAT technicians are unable to reach the island.
Electricity was briefly restored during the night from approximately 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., but since that time Washington Island continues to be without power, as of noon Wednesday as this is being written.
Meanwhile, island restaurants, Mann’s Store, school, the clinic and coffee shops are closed. Cold cereal or cold beans from a can will have to do for the time being. At the Dock, Hoyt connected a small, portable generator that is now supplying limited power to our Ferry Office phone system. Janet Hanlin reported some 60 phone calls this morning, all of them weather related, including one call from the lee shore at Northport (“It looks fine over here. What’s the matter?” )
We anticipate our power will be restored via the underwater cable, perhaps within the hour, just as soon as the WPS crew resolves all problems on our mainland feed. In fact, in an instant update, Janet and Bill Schutz just viewed the WPS truck on our WIFL Webcam having pulled up to the Northport utility pole connection.
It won’t be long now!
- Dick Purinton