Monday, April 14, 2014


Wind-driven, heavy Green Bay ice piled on the western side of Plum Island
during the early morning.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

A gray, bleary Sunday turned out to be our best day of the weekend in what could otherwise be termed a stretch of poopy weather. (Is that an approved meteorological term?)

We got comfy and spent several hours yesterday watching those folks in short sleeves and shorts as they watched the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.  And, we don't golf.  We just wanted to be transported to someplace for a few hours, to see what green grass and bright spring flowers look like.  After Bubba Watson put on his new green blazer, I went outdoors to put away sleds and shovels, and raked in a few small sections of lawn where it had dried.

I had no sense, believing the TV weather picture that had the snow north of our location.  By daybreak Monday morning, rain having turned to snow during the night, winds from the NW picked up and temperatures dropped, and we looked out the window to a fresh blanket of heavy snow.  This latest snow storm, by my official boot top measurement and estimated shovel weight, put another five or so inches on the ground.

With the high winds and poor visibility, and the likelihood of ice coming out the Door passage, the morning ferries were canceled.  Although Islanders were headed down the line (to hear the Governor speak at the Door County Economic Development Corporation's Annual Banquet, among other things), the poor roads and difficult conditions reined in such impulses. School was first delayed, then canceled.   Students may have been happy to be home, indoors looking out, but that was before the other shoe dropped.  The power went out, and it remained out for three to four hours.

Tree limbs were down over power lines and roads in many locations. The Town crew tackled limbs as  the REA crew worked to restore power.  According to Mary Lynn at REA Phone Central, what was first a local problem grew as a phase was dropped from the Mainland, and one of the Island generators had a problem that caused "an imbalanced load."  Power was restored in time for a hot lunch.

Beyond these several setbacks there was good news.  The Roen crew dug today throughout the blizzard-like conditions, and as of 4 pm the tug Stephan M. Asher was pushing the third loaded scow of the day to the Potato Dock, with the possibility of a fourth scow being filled in the early evening.  Although roads were plenty sloppy in places, the main trucking routes that were plowed by the Town early in the morning seemed exceptionally dry and snow-free, thanks to melting from pavement heat.

Dredging days have been few and far between this spring.
First, ice and cold weather, then broken ice in
the channel blocked operations.   

This day marked only the second full 24 hours of dredging so far in 2014.

Tuesday, April 7th, the Detroit Harbor project resumed, only to have progress quickly curtailed by a damaged silt curtain.  Several days passed while repairs were made, during what were ideal weather and ice-free conditions.  But, by the time the crews and equipment were ready to dig once again, ice chunks filled the channel, floated in on a southerly breeze.

With no prospect for the wind to shift and the ice to leave, crews departed for a couple of days off. They reported in again Sunday morning, just as the shifting northerly breeze blew ice toward the open lake.  With April now already half over, and only two days of dredging accomplished,  in order to gain on the schedule imposed by the WDNR permit for digging, the contractor will need assistance in the form of favorable winds - meaning more northerly than any other direction.

According to Hoyt Purinton, the bay ice that blew down this morning against Plum Island was a single, large field, with nary a visible crack running through it.  Plum Island became an effective Door stop, but not before the edge of the field piled some 30 feet into the air.  (That's an estimate, as there is little but the nearby tree line for a gauge.)  The Bay of Green Bay has yet to break up into small fields.

A friend earlier this winter indicated to me that he read my blogs, but he just about had his fill of dredging photos.  Sorry!  I guess the same might be said for snow pictures. When there are few local events to mark these days, we'll keep covering the same-old.   [But really, how exciting, isn't it, to see the dredge dredge for a change?  And fresh snow fall sideways in a breeze, and then the white aftermath…]

Some day soon, summer will come along and then we'll be yawning, waiting for fall colors and another cycle of nature.

-  Dick Purinton


Bill Tobey said...

Dick, just for balance, I really enjoy your dredging coverage. The channel is essential to the island and the tourism that keeps its economy afloat. It was last dredged about the time I was born, a time when the North Shore and Welcome crossed the Door. Keep up the good work!

Al Goeppinger said...

I too enjoy your dredging and snow fall photos. They remind me why I decided to retire up here in the Nortland and not in Florida. Keep them coming. Hope to visit Washington Island again soon.

Al Goeppinger
Egg Harbor, WI