Morning storms damage several U.P. State Parks

Morning storms damage several U.P. State Parks

HOUGHTON COUNTY — UPDATE — Thursday July 21st, 2016, 7:01 p.m. EDT

Michigan Department of Natural Resources crews continue to assess and clear damage from the thunderstorms that slashed through the western U.P. early today.

Though there are reports of damage at state parks from the Porcupine Mountains, east to Twin Lakes and at the Emily Lake State Forest Campground in Houghton County, there have still not been any injuries reported from said parks.

A severe thunderstorm storm that slashed through the western Upper Peninsula this morning, felling countless trees and downing power lines, has forced the temporary closure of Emily Lake State Forest Campground and Twin Lakes State Park in Houghton County.

Power has been reported out at F.J. McLain, Baraga, Fort Wilkins, Twin Lakes and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness state parks.

“We have extensive storm damage reported from Emily Lake State Forest Campground, which is located in Houghton County, just a couple of miles south of Twin Lakes State Park,” said John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deputy public information officer. “Falling trees are reported to have caused significant damage to at least two travel campers. We will be closing the park temporarily.”

At this point, no injuries to park visitors have been reported. DNR fire officers are working to cut their way into the campground with chainsaws.

The National Weather Service is expected to visit the rustic campground at Emily Lake to determine if the area was struck by a tornado.

Weather forecasters have issued a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until noon EDT for Alger, Baraga, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Marquette, Menominee, Schoolcraft counties.

Local firefighters are helping DNR staff clear downed trees at Twin Lakes State Park. At least one vehicle was damaged there. No injuries have been reported. DNR park staff was contacting visitors who have camping reservations scheduled over the next few days, to inform them about the power outage, which reportedly may persist for a few days.

A vehicle damage by a falling tree.“Twin Lakes State Park is scheduled to reopen to local traffic this afternoon,” Pepin said. “However, certain areas of the park may be closed or inaccessible.”

The DNR is cautioning the public to avoid the Emily Lake and Twin Lakes State Park areas while crews work to remove safety hazards.

In the Porcupine Mountains, park workers were helping county staff clear downed trees from county road 107 on the east end of the park.

“Storm damage assessments are continuing this morning throughout the region,” Pepin said. “We will continue to update information as it becomes available.”

For more information on the closures, contact F.J. McLain State Park at 906-482-0278.

(Information Courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources)