Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Milwaukeeans Begin To Dig Out After 80 Percent Of City Paralyzed After Almost Two Feet Of Snow fell

Vehicles blocked by almost two feet of snow.

A South side alley blocked by high snow drifts.
Photos by HNG

50 mile winds and snow fall overnight created 6 to 7 foot snow drifts blocking streets, alleys and highway exits

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 2, 2011

Milwaukee - On Wednesday, thousands of Milwaukeeans began the task of digging out after heavy snow fell between 12 to 18 inches and 50 mile gusts of winds created 6 to 7 foot snow drifts along streets, rural roads, alleys and highway exists. The City of Milwaukee was paralyzed during the early hours, but 355 city snow plow trucks kept most of the main streets cleared. The plows have created snow mounds blocking traffic flow from side streets and alleys, which have to be cleared in order for vehicles to can get into the main streets. The side streets and alleys kept people blocked from moving their vehicles as a result of the high snow drifts. The North Lincoln Memorial Drive along the lakefront is closed. 
Most Milwaukee downtown main streets are cleared, but sidewalks are blocked and traffic flow is scarce as people stay home.
City officials are warning people for hidden dangers such as blocked heating furnace vents outside blocked by high snow drifts. Some reports by residents say that carbon monoxide was noticed building up in their homes. People should check the vents outside and clear them, according to officials.
Mitchell International Airport cancelled most of the fights last night and are expecting to resume flights after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Some flights out Mitchell on Thursday have been cancelled. Milwaukee Public School District, Racine and Kenosha School Districts will remained closed for Thursday.
Shopping malls like Southridge, Mayfair, Brookfield and Bayshore are expected to open after noon. The Milwaukee County Transit (public bus transportation) has cancelled all their routes, so people should avoid bus stops for now.
The City of Milwaukee is expecting 0 degree weather for tonight with -10 to -20 windshields and 35 mile blowing winds causing more snow drifts.
The first related snow shoveling death was reported by police. A 66-year-old man died after shoveling snow at the 5200 block of N. 66th St. He walked back inside his home and collapsed, according to police. The second death was reported before noon in Brown Deer, a 53-year-old man using a snow blower in the 8600 block of N. 64th St. collapsed and died at the scene. The third blizzard related death was reported in Franklin, a 54-year-old man using a snow blower collapsed shortly after noon and later died at the 6700 block of Yale Dive. The deaths are under investigation by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office.
The Milwaukee Police Department is warning that some intersection stop lights are out and people should proceed with caution. The Wisconsin National Guard was deployed overnight to help authorities and stranded motorists along highways and rural roads that became stuck due to snow drifts.
Parts of Interstate 94 from Northbound was reported closed and Highway 47 Southbound closed. Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office is asking people who left their vehicles on County highways to try and remove them. No tickets will be issued for the day and the may concern at the moment is to help people remove their vehicles, according to Sheriff David Clarke Jr.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is calling it the million dollar snow clean up of the decade. The city budget for snow clean up is $6 million dollars per Winter season.
Interstate 43 between Mukwonago to Beloit remained closed on Wednesday, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.
In Madison, at least 100 people were rescued when they became stranded overnight in highways.
In Racine and Kenosha counties, about 5,200 residents reported power outages overnight and this morning We Energies reported they are at least 1,800 homes without power. Power crews had been working to restore power to homes.
Highway 50 is shut down and authorities are trying to help people stranded in their vehicles on the highway. Interstate 94 is reported closed in Kenosha County.
Racine reported at least 18 inches of snow and other reports say between 23 to 25 inches of accumulation.
North of Milwaukee at least 6 to 12 inches of snow fell, according to the weather center. 

Photos by HNG

On Wednesday, Ismael Acosta and snow removal helpers clearing the 2600 block of W. National Ave. sidewalk in front of the Mitchell Senior Court in Milwaukee's South side. Photo by HNG

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