Heavy snow caused power outages and roof collapses in northwestern Wisconsin overnight. Road crews are continuing to clear snow from a major winter storm in northwestern Wisconsin. Around 4,000 homes lost power overnight in Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire, from a combination of heavy snows and traffic accidents bringing down power lines. Many were still without power this morning. Xcel Energy has brought in extra crews to make repairs.
Heavy snows caused a partial roof collapse at a Kmart in Eau Claire and an auto parts store in Menomonie. No one was hurt. One man in the Eau Claire County city of Altoona suffered a leg injury when he was trapped under a fallen awning at a mobile home. Blowing and drifting snow have continued to make travel hazardous and most schools in the area are closed today.
In Hayward, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation announced the cancellation of the Junior Birkie due to the continuing snow storm, according to the Sawyer County Record newspaper. The Junior Birkie is an event for 8 to 18-year-old skiers held at the Telemark property. The heavy snow fall made it difficult for volunteers and participants to make it to the venue early Friday. All other Friday events are still going on as scheduled.
Wisconsin Emergency Management issued the following Situation Report at 6:00 a.m. this morning:
Weather Update – Road crews continue to clear snow from a major winter storm. West and northwest Wisconsin will receive 13 to 17 inches by Friday afternoon with the highest snow near Lake Superior and lower accumulations farther from the lake. As of 5:30am, Superior reports 12.4 inches, Ashland has 11 inches, Eau Claire has 7.4 inches. Seeley, in Sawyer County, received 5.5 inches of snow in two hours last night. With snow ending, strong gusting winds become the main concern across the state. Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts of 45 mph are expected in southern Wisconsin. A Wind Advisory is in effect until 3pm today.
Travel – The Department of Transportation reports snow-covered roads in most of the state except in southeast Wisconsin where roads are in good winter driving condition The blowing snow will continue to make driving dangerous in the northwest. Avoid travel Friday morning if possible in that area. Travel is not advised across much of southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa with a Blizzard Warning still in effect.
Wisconsin National Guard – Last night the Wisconsin State Patrol requested Wisconsin National Guard members to check Rest Areas along Hwy 53 from Eau Claire to Rice Lake for any stranded motorists. The National Guard found several semi-trucks and a car parked at a wayside near Chetek with all drivers and passengers ok and in no need of assistance.
Power Outages – The major electric utilities serving Wisconsin report more than 5500 customers without power.
The American Birkebeiner– Race officials say events will continue to take place as scheduled.
WAYY contributed to this report