Kewaunee County digs out of ‘by far the worst’ blizzard
KEWAUNEE COUNTY – As of Wednesday afternoon, the massive blizzard that wreaked havoc on Northeast Wisconsin last weekend hasn't been declared an official record snowfall for the county.
But it sure seems like a record to those who were out working in it.
"I spoke with Deputy Joe Kassner, who's been with (the department) for over 30 years, and he stated it was by far the worst storm he has been on duty for," David Cornelius, Chief Deputy for the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department, wrote in an email response to the Star-News.
And, Highway Commissioner Todd Every said the county's Highway Department employees told him they'd never experienced a storm like that. Every felt the same.
"It's definitely the worst snowstorm since I've been here," Every said. "As far as the amount of snow at one time, I've never been through anything like that in my life."
The official snowfall from April 13 to 15 in the city of Kewaunee reported by the National Weather Service is 18.5 inches, with no totals elsewhere in the county as of press time. Cornelius said more snow seems to have fallen in areas west and northwest of the city, while areas south got the same or maybe a little less. The snow was very wet and heavy, and winds that peaked at 45 mph in Kewaunee, according to NWS, caused huge drifts across the county.
In neighboring counties, Two Rivers and Manitowoc officially recorded 11 and 10.5 inches, respectively, while the metro Green Bay area received amounts between 20 and 25.5 inches — the 24.2 in Green Bay is the second-highest number on record, trailing only the 29.2 that fell March 1-2, 1888 — and Door County recorded totals ranging from 18.2 in Baileys Harbor to 31 in Carlsville.
Cornelius said his department answered about 110 calls over the three days that were directly related to the storm, not counting related calls for information or parking issues. He said the department answered about 45 calls the weekend before, less than half those caused by the storm.
Obviously, it also made for a busy time for the highway department and its snowplows.
"The crews were out at about 3 in the morning Saturday," Every said. We got most, if not all, the state and county roads punched open. Fortunately, the lull in the storm (during the day Saturday) kinda helped.
"The crews went home, then were back at it at 3 or 4 in the morning Sunday. The peak for us was between 9 and 2 Sunday, with the intense snowfall and high winds. We were able to get most of the state and county roads open by Sunday night, then we were back in at 3 a.m. Monday.
"Those were 14- to 18-hour days. It was a pretty long weekend."
All county offices were closed Monday on the recommendation of the highway and sheriff's departments, and all schools were closed as well.
A number of roofs in the county collapsed under the weight of the snow, including one over a barn at Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee (see separate story). The awning outside Joe Rouer's Bar in Duvall also collapsed, but the famed burger bar is open for business.
Sheriff's department patrols noticed that county residents who removed the snow as it fell instead of waiting until the storm finished had an easier time of the task, Cornelius wrote.
"Some started by removing snow as it came and continued their efforts through the weekend whilst others made attempts to remove the result with great difficulty," he wrote. "Most efforts to use a conventional snow blower were futile. Light equipment and machinery were utilized to move most of the snow. Otherwise, shoveling was widely noticed."
Both Corneilius and Every said the caution exercised by residents was a big factor in getting through the storm as well as the county did.
"There was a lot of community involvement in keeping others aware of potential hazards," Cornelius wrote, "and the majority of the citizens regarded the advisories and stayed home during the weather."
"I'm glad that all or most of the people listened to the warnings and stayed home and stayed off the roads," Every said. " That made it easier for us to clear the roads."
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Kewaunee County digs out of 'by far the worst' blizzard