Porkies cabins reopen after storm

PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS STATE PARK – Most Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park backcountry cabin and campsite closures were lifted this week, according to Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“Thanks to help of some dedicated crews, these cabins have been reopened ahead of schedule,” said John Pepin, deputy public information officer for the DNR. “This comes as great news for park visitors at the height of the summer camping season at the park.”

These cabin and campsite closures were the result of flooding from a July 11 thunderstorm that dumped as much as 11 inches of rain in the western Upper Peninsula. In addition, a yurt that lost its roof last week will reopen today at the Union Bay Campground, on the east end of the park.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado struck three miles south of Bessemer in Gogebic County July 11.

“The Gogebic County Airport reported 9 inches of rain in six hours, while weather observers near Lake Superior recorded up to 11 inches of rain in four hours,” said Linda Hansen, of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Resources Division. “Per our DEQ Hydrologic Studies Unit, these intensities and durations meet or exceed the 1000-year storm event.”

The phrase “1,000-year storm event” means there is a 1 in 1,000 chance of another storm like it happening at any time, not that one will only happen every 1,000 years.

Last week a second severe thunderstorm hit the eastern half of the park July 21. The National Weather Service office in Negaunee Township confirmed pockets of significant tree damage from Ontonagon east toward Baraga.

“It’s miraculous no one got hurt,” Pepin said.

Water is still discolored in Silver City due to storm winds churning up sand and sediment during the recent storm.

“The mud line’s pretty far out in the lake,” said Bob Wild, park interpreter. “It’s a mess.”

Several crews cleared downed trees from trails this week, and are expected to continue until the job is done.

“We appreciate how patient and understanding the public has been with us as we continue the cleanup and repair of these facilities,” Gaertner said.

Gaertner said the closures initially caused a backlog of reservations park staff had to accommodate.

For campers with questions on reservations at any of the U.P. parks, contact the DNR’s parks call center at 1-800-447-2757 or 1-800-44PARKS.

Please see The Gazette’s weekend edition for a related story on some park features that remain closed due to storm damage.