Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ice Coated Arrowhead

The strong low pressure system that sucked the moisture laden air from warmer climes into our area has passed, leaving behind a wet muddy mess in the Red River Basin.

Less reported but just as impressive, it also left a wake of tangled branches, sagging trees and broken power poles in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota as it steamed on for points east.

Cook County (the county of my birth) covers the extreme northeast portion of the massive State of Minnesota.

It is bordered to the west by Lake County. The border line runs north and south in the woods between Cook and Lake county.

Bordering Cook County to the north is Canada, our good neighbor to the north. We are separated by magnificent boreal lakes; Knife, Saganaga, North, Pine, Fowl...

This Northern border of Cook County runs eastward from these cold lakes, following the Pigeon river as it falls through the piney woods, cutting into the Laurentian shield.

It eventually falls to the lowest point in Minnesota; 601'.

To Lake Superior.

This 1300' deep inland freshwater sea of gargantuan size, from glaciers only recently past, forms the southern border-shoreline for the region called the "Arrowhead" of Minnesota.

It ruggedly runs from Grand Portage, southwesterly for 120 miles and three counties to the zenith city; Duluth Minnesota. (It is the highest ocean-going port on the Lakes)

Way up at the northeast pointy tip of the arrowhead, Cook county also has the highest elevation in Minnesota. On Eagle Mountain at 2301 feet above sea level you can easily see the lowest point, Lake Superior.

That low pressure system that gave the spring flood to the Red River Valley, coated much of Cook County in ice, some as thick as two inches.

It was extremely pretty, but very heavy and was breaking branches, limbs and whole trees, large and small. Many trees were just leaning over from the weight of the glistening tinkling fairyland coating.

The sentiment that "...It was eerie, you could hear branches breaking all the time in the woods", was repeated by many.

Also many power poles, transmission lines and substations were damaged from the intense weight of the clear, frozen, ice coating as thick as your thumb.

Thousands were without power and many went into Grand Marais, Beaver Bay and Silver Bay to seek warmth and shelter.

The thickest coating was a few hill lines back from the Lake were it didn't have its' warmth. The Finland area and the substation there seem to have seen the heaviest coating of ice.

The heavy equipment is now out working on clearing roads and repairing power lines. The back roads will probably be seeing difficulties at least till fall, some maybe longer.

The northwoods of Minnesota are loaded with naturally felled and falling trees. They are falling around our ears, also evident by the massive BWCA blow-down of '99.

Minnesota forests are thriving. If allowed they could easily overwhelm us.

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