Saturday, October 8, 2011


Saturday's ferries - one arriving, one leaving
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Ideal October weather (upper 60s), light breeze from the SE, and lots of visitors in Door County brought traffic to the Island this morning.   With as many planned Peninsula and Island activities as any time of year, there are many choices to be made, including riding the ferry to Washington Island.

Temperatures were consistently warm, days sunny, and colors brilliant against blue skies all week long, once the high pressure filled in.  The official recorded weather for our area, as delivered to us by NOAA Island Weather Observer John Delwiche from September included the following (all within the last hours of the month as stormy weather passed over the area):
  *    1.08" for a 24-hour precipitation   (an island record for 9/30)
   *   Mid-lake waves measured  23-ft. for night of 9/29 to 9/30
  *    Peak wind gusts recorded at Northport NOAA tower:     64 mph at 9 pm, 9/29  
    (Sister Bay gust were recorded at 69 mph)

The damage from last week's winds caused widespread power outages, both on Washington Island and on the Door Peninsula, where poles that supplied the island were snapped.   The Northport road still shows many of the trees that were cut and shoved aside so that power could be more quickly restored.

Robert Cornell, our Island Electric Cooperative Manager, along with Mary Lynn Andersen, Randy Sorensen and Don Johnson, worked long hours Thursday night into Friday, into Saturday, and again Sunday, to restore island power to all but a few homes.  Those were reached by Monday and Tuesday.  With stand-by Co-op generators available, but downed lines too numerous, it was an impossibility to keep up with the outages as they occurred, which led to one of the longest outages remembered by islanders.

Long delays, ensuing customer frustration, and the desire by non-experts to peg the problems and solutions floated unfounded rumors.   Robert, I believe, answered all the important questions and more in a straight forward manner in a box holder mailed Friday to Island REA customers.  

His 4-page letter which went into considerable detail began with this paragraph:

    "The Washington Island Electric Cooperative would first like to thank all the members for their patience and understanding during the severe storm of September 29 and 30.  We would also like to thank the Town Crew, Officers McGrane and Schultz and members of the Washington Island Fire Department for their assistance.   The amount of damage done to our system was unprecedented at least in the last 10 years and likely significantly longer.  When you are working during a storm and there are trees and branches coming down around you as you work, these folks deserve extra thanks. We would also like to thank all those members who offered help, brought in food, and gave us encouraging comments during the storm."   

Robert's Cooperative Boxholder letter is well worth placing in a file for reading once again some day.   As frustrating as the outages were, and the inconveniences caused by them, in the end few (if any) vehicles or buildings were reported damaged, and most importantly, there were no personal injuries reported either here or on the Peninsula as a direct result of the storm, a rather remarkable fact considering the limbs flying and trees that were wholly uprooted.   Lots to be thankful for, in other words, including the hard work of the power company men in clearing trees and restoring downed power lines.

So, this week has been a tourism "gravy week" in many ways, with beautiful, consistent weather that's brought out visitors to enjoy the outdoors at its finest.

Today and Sunday the Island Farm Museum will have cider pressing, carmel apples (the best!) and wagon rides with Ted Hansen and his pair of Belgians.   Ted had them out exercising in the fields adjacent to the museum barns when we visited Thursday while his wagon was at Dave's Garage getting axles greased in preparation for the weekend.  

Here are a few photos of Ted, brother Ray who stopped by to visit, and his horses.   -  Dick Purinton

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