Police continue search for two swept away in gale windstorm


Photo by North Wind: A stormwatcher at Black Rocks escapes the pull of Lake Superior’s waves which, were caused by Tuesday’s gale windstorm.

Von Lanier

Marquette City Police are currently searching for two people who were swept away into Lake Superior during high winds at Black Rocks around 1:35 p.m. in Marquette yesterday.

The Marquette County Sheriff’s Department, and the Marquette Fire Department are assisting the The Marquette City Police Department in the search for the two people who were identified Wednesday by the city police as 53-year-old Robert Anderson and 37-year-old Sarah Hall, both from Iron River.

As of now, neither of the missing people have been located at this time but the incident remains under investigation and the search efforts will continue, the Marquette City Police Department said in a press release.

The Coast Guard reported that a helicopter from Traverse City searched the water around Black Rocks for three hours after the incident yesterday. The helicopter was called in because strong winds and waves made it too dangerous for boats and divers to search the water. The search was called off due to the dangerous conditions that lasted all day and night at the lake.

Marquette and Alger county residents experienced hurricane-like winds yesterday due to a severe storm along Lake Superior that downed trees around the county and left some without power for hours.

Brett Borchardt, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service for Marquette, said on Tuesday that in some areas the wind was in excess of 60 miles per hour and there were very large waves along Lake Superior in excess of 20 feet.

“It is fairly normal to get these strong storm systems late in the year,” Borchardt said. “Sometimes they’re called the ‘gales of November.’ It’s just that we get a change in seasons from basically summer to winter.

The entire Marquette Board of Light and Power (BLP) service area suffered from power outages yesterday and there are some areas that continue to have some outages, said Ben Collins, manager of distribution and engineering services for BLP. Their service area emcompasses the city of Marquette, Skandia, Negaunee, as well as Sands and Chocolay Townships.

“The mass outages are pretty much taken care of,” Collins said on Wednesday. “It’s just there’s small pockets of 8 to 10 customers or even 1 to 2 customers here and there that still need to be addressed.” 

Collins said BLP is currently working alongside mutual aid crews from outside of the area as well with tree a service to help restore power and remove some of the fallen trees from areas affected.

It’ll be a long process to restore power to isolated incidents, Collins said, adding, “A lot of these are just single customers with a tree on a [power] line or their service was taken off of their house by the wind.”

BLP reported a number of power outages in the Marquette County area due to things like downed trees hitting power lines. Business like Walmart and Target were forced close their doors due to the effects of the storm knocking out power along U.S. Highway 41.