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Severe Storms Knock Out Power to Tens of Thousands Across the Northwoods

Update (7/28/21 8:30 a.m.): Wisconsin Public Service is reporting 16,000 customers without power. It's restored power to more than 62,000 people since Monday night's storm. Xcel is reporting fewer than 2,000 customers still without power. WE Energies still has roughtly 3,200 customers without power. 

Tens of thousands of people lost power in Northcentral Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.

Severe thunderstorms with winds nearing 80 miles per hour took out trees and downed power lines.

By midday Tuesday, Wisconsin Public Service had already restored power to more than 40,000 customers. Xcel and WE Engeries are both reporting thousands without power.

Line crews have been working since late Monday night, early Tuesday morning to remove tree limbs from power lines and get the lights back on.

“We have brought in additional outside crews to assist us with our restoration efforts. That’s in addition to all available line crews that we have that are currently working to assist our customers, make repairs and restore service to them,” said Matt Cullen, spokesman with Wisconsin Public Service.

The National Weather Service said 77 mile per hour winds were reported in the Mountain area of Oconto County.

The Eagle River area likely saw 60 to 65 mile per hour winds.

If you see downed power lines, stay at least 25 feet away and report it as soon as possible.

Don’t try to remove any the of debris around the equipment yourself.

“Do not attempt to go near that piece of equipment as it still may be energized. We want our customers stay that 25-foot distance away and again report it as soon as possible that way we can send a crew out to the area to be able make that area safe,” said Cullen.

Cullen did not have an estimated timeline for when power would be restored.

He said crews are working as quickly and safely as possible.

While they work to get the lights back on, Wisconsin Public Service is already monitoring the next round of storms expected Wednesday.

“Just as we were monitoring these conditions and these storms that moved Monday night, we’ll have crews that will be ready to respond if we should see start to see impacts to our distribution system and our customers because of those storms,” said Cullen.

The National Weather Service says confidence continues to increase for more widespread thunderstorms across Northcentral Wisconsin Wednesday.

Tornadoes, damaging straight lined winds, large hail and flooding will be possible.

Cullen said now is the time to prepare.

“Make sure that they have an emergency kit ready in the event that they would lose service from a severe weather situation. Again, that can come in handy throughout the year, not just during the summer months, but also during the winter as well when we have severe snowstorms,” said Cullen.

Emergency kits should include things like enough water and food for several days.

Flashlights, a first aid kit, and extra batteries are also good to have on hand.

The National Weather Service also recommends having a battery-powered or hand crank Weather Radio with tone alert.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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