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Bitter Cold Causing Problems Across Greater Milwaukee Area

Darren Hauck/Getty Images
A man braves the cold and walks along the shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee as temperatures remain in the negative digits on Jan. 7, 2014, which was during a previous polar vortex.

Across the greater Milwaukee area, businesses remain closed, some flights are canceled and thousands of people are without power as We Energies works to fix issues.

Amy Jahns, a spokesperson for We Energies, says people in Sullivan, Racine and the town of Erin are impacted by wires snapping Thursday morning.  

“The weather with the frigid temperatures are causing our wires to constrict and causing them to snap off. And so we are arriving and finding wires down on the scene,” she says.

Jahns is hopeful that by 8 a.m. things will be back to normal, though she acknowledges that the cold temps are slowing work.

“We also have to take in consideration as far as timing to make sure that our crews are getting rest and warmth. So, they are taking frequent breaks inside their vehicles so that is just delaying a little bit of our restoration time than we normally see when we have issues like this,” Jahns says.

When it comes to flights, there are a number of cancellations.

“The airlines are making these decisions in the interest of employee safety. To make sure that their staff is not exposed to the cold weather especially during the early morning hours today,” says Harold Mester, the public affairs and marketing director for General Mitchell airport.

Mester says flights that are scheduled to depart this afternoon are expected to be on time right now. Still, he says it’s always best to check with your airline before heading to the airport.

Temperatures are expected to remain bitterly cold Thursday, but some city services will resume. Milwaukee has been virtually shut down due to the weather.

“I’ve spoken to Paula Kiely from the library and all Milwaukee Public Libraries will be open between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. So, that’s as the day gets a little warmer. We want to make sure that our libraries … that’s a place where people gather, and obviously, if people are outside, we want them to be safe as well. Health Department clinics and lab hours will be open 1 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. And standard overnight parking regulations will resume tonight,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says.

City officials are still urging people to stay indoors if possible. The rideshare company Lyft is offering two free rides to warming centers across Milwaukee for those in need.

Temperatures are expected to warm by Friday, with a high of 22 degrees on Friday and 40 degrees on Saturday.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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