Chesterton Tribune


Low Lake Michigan takes Sandy's winds in stride

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Lake Michigan was angrier Tuesday than he’s ever seen it.

Brandt Baughman, property manager at Indiana Dunes State Park, told the Chesterton Tribune today that the only storm which comes close in terms of wave violence and height is the infamous Blizzard of December 2010.

And whatever damage it caused to the dunes—still unknown, inasmuch as the beaches remained submerged this morning—would have been far worse, had Lake Michigan levels been at their historical average, Baughman added. Instead, the lake is way low at the moment.

“If we had started at high levels, any damage we’ve experienced would have been exacerbated,” Baughman said.

How badly did wave action erode the dunes? Hard to say. “We don’t have a good idea about the extent of the erosion,” Baughman noted. “At this point the beach is still pretty much covered by the lake. There was a lot of sand movement in front of the Pavilion but the erosion doesn’t look extensive.”

Porter Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer echoed Baughman, with respect to Porter Beach, where a preliminary assessment indicated that “the erosion wasn’t as bad as we thought it might be.”

Baughman did say that the wind ripped off the roof a pole barn in the State Park’s service area.


Report Damage

Chesterton Police reported that, around 10:35 a.m. Tuesday, in the parking lot of Chesterton High School at 2125 S. 11th St., the wind blew off a pickup truck’s fiberglass bed cover and sailed it into two other vehicles, causing an estimated $3,000 in damage.

The high winds also appeared to have caused the breaker on a NIPSCO pole in the 2400 block of Riverview Drive in Westchester Township to trip. Capt. Rudy Jimenez told the Tribune today that the incident occurred at 5:33 a.m. today, when a resident heard a “loud explosion,” then noticed that the top of the pole was on fire.

The CFD responded and baby-sat the pole until the arrival of a NIPSCO crew at 6:42 a.m. The crew deactivated the pole and then doused the fire itself, Jimenez said.

A neighbor did wonder why firefighters let the pole burn. “We told her that electricity and water don’t mix,” Jimenez said. “If we sprayed water on, there’s a chance we would be electrocuted.”

The breaker on another NIPSCO pole—this one in the area of East Morgan Ave. and Wilson Street—was tripped on Tuesday, around 8:12 a.m. The CFD monitored the pole until the arrival of a NIPSCO crew about 10 minutes later.

Jimenez was unable to say with certainty what caused the pair of breakers to trip but did note that, in high winds, tree limbs can make contact with a line and cause it to arc and go to ground, causing a trip.

Outages Today

At this time on Tuesday fully 4,863 NIPSCO customers—1,557 of them in Duneland—were in the dark.

At 8:30 a.m. today, only 40 were juiceless, three of them in Duneland.

At 11 a.m. today, 20 customers across the company’s service area were still waiting for their power to be restored, none of them in Duneland.


Posted 10/31/2012