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May storm dumps up to 18 inches of snow

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — The calendar does say it’s May — right?

A “winter” storm that stretched from Texas to Lake Superior dumped up to 18 inches of snow in West Central Wisconsin May 2.

In the Colfax area, totals were around 15 inches of wet, heavy snow.

The heavy snow caused trees and branches to fall across roads and driveways, which impeded travel and brought down power lines, resulting in numerous power outages.

In Eau Claire, about eight inches of snow fell, and 13 inches was reported for Menomonie.

The storm was unusual in its trajectory. Most winter storms travel from west to east or southwest to northeast. This particular storm traveled from south to north bringing Gulf of Mexico moisture with it.

According to some meteorologists, a record amount of melting Arctic ice last year because of global warming may be causing the jet stream to stall out, creating winter weather when it is supposed to be spring.

April this year was more like March with cold temperatures and snowfall throughout the month.

The snow from the latest storm started Wednesday evening, May 1, and continued throughout the day on Thursday as the storm worked its way up over West Central Wisconsin.

Schools in the area were closed, and at times, the rate of snowfall reduced the visibility to less than an eighth of a mile.

Xcel Energy reported that 60,000 customers in Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota were without power. By 6 p.m. Thursday, power had been restored to 80 percent of those customers. More than 300 field crews were out working to restore the electricity.

The electricity went off in Colfax mid-to-late morning on Thursday and did not come back on until the evening.

Dunn Energy reported that nearly 4,000 customers were without power in the Downsville, Connorsville, Colfax, Tainter, Knapp and Boyceville areas.

Crews from Eau Claire County Electric and Taylor County Electric traveled to Dunn County to help Dunn Energy crews restore power.

The electricity went out at 6 a.m. in some areas of Dunn County and did not come back on until 8 p.m.

Other areas of the county experienced flickering lights but never did lose power completely.

By Thursday evening, many people had posted pictures of the snow on their Facebook pages, told about trees going down in their yards and driveways, and said the electricity had been out so long that the temperature inside their houses had fallen to 50 degrees, and they were feeling the cold.

By Friday, the temperature had warmed up enough so that most of the snow had fallen off the trees and the roads were clear, although the landscape was still covered with a thick layer of white.

Weather forecasts indicated that temperatures would rise into the 60s and 70s by the middle of the week.