ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - We all know a Northwoods winter means lots of snow, but since we're so used to winter, we don't always prepare for it like we should. Preparing your car and home are essential.
"Make sure your furnace is in good working order, your fire place is in good working order. It's a good idea to have extra food, non-perishable food, whether you're traveling or even at home," say Jeff Last, Green Bay National Weather Service Meteorologist.
Even if a storm is predicted to just miss you, you should still be prepared. The weather changes constantly and so does the forecast.
"Forecasting winter storms is always a challenge here in the Midwest. A change in the low pressure track of just twenty-five or fifty miles can shift the heavy snow axis twenty-five or fifty miles to the north or south of where we thought it would go initially. So it's important, really important, that people stay up to date with the latest forecast," said Last.
And while big storms can cause meteorologists headaches, day-to-day winter weather can be just as challenging. One of the toughest aspects to a Northwoods forecast…
"…the effect of Lake Superior. That's a big moisture source and as those cold north winds move over the warmer waters of Lake Superior it picks up that extra moisture and can dump copious amounts of snowfall," says Jeff Last.
But it's important to know what the forecast means. The National Weather Service issues alerts to help out.
"A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when we expect anywhere from about three to five or so inches of snow and relatively light winds," stated Last.
We had a Winter Weather Advisory for parts of the Northwoods last Tuesday night. The storm gave three to five inches of snow to parts of Vilas and Iron Counties. More intense storms call for different alerts.
"We issue a winter storm warning for snowfall six inches or more in twelve hours, or eight inches in twenty-four, or a combination of any amount of snow with extremely high winds," said Last.
These storms can create blizzard like conditions, dropping visibilities less than a quarter mile.
"If we expect blizzard conditions to last 3 hours or more, we will actually issue a blizzard warning, which is the most severe type of winter storm," says Jeff Last
Most importantly, be prepared for conditions to change quickly.
WISCONSIN - Mud, debris, and damaged property still cover parts of Northern Iron County after a storm ripped through there more than two weeks ago.
The lack of money to repair certain areas is largely keeping the rebuilding process from getting started.
That's why the Federal Emergency Management Agency came to Iron County Tuesday.
It surveyed the damage because of its severity and the extreme costs to fix.
"Really if it's beyond the scope of local jurisdiction, and even the states that respond," said FEMA External Affairs Officer Troy Christensen.
Wisconsin Emergency Management currently believes the damage caused by the mid-July storm is around $38 million across 10 counties and Bad River Reservation. Around $15 million of that happened in Iron County.
FEMA relies on local government like the ones in Iron County to help it assess damage.
"They have sights selected so they will be showing us a lot of these sights." Said Christensen.
Those sights included multiple towns, Saxon Harbor, and crumbled highways.
This week Iron County gave its damage estimates to FEMA.
RHINELANDER - Building a robot may seem like a pretty lofty summer camp goal, but teens in the Northwoods love the technological challenge.
It's all part of a summer camp that's heavy on science and social interaction.
13-year-old Sean Timm says the eight day robotics camp at Nicolet College mixed the best of both worlds.
"I like technology a lot more than I do outside stuff," Timm said. "It's kind of nice to have technology like drones to bring me outside. It's really fun."
Camp Instructor, Mike Wojtusik has many years of experience as a technology education teacher and robotics advisor. He wants kids to see the importance in learning these skills.
"The kids are getting experience from a mechanical engineering side, electrical engineering side, design, prototyping," said Wojtusik. "We try and cover as much as we can about the whole entire system."
Learning about robotics isn't the only thing these students do. Some of them are also exercising skills they'll need in the future.
"I think it's a great experience for them to understand what really goes on in the real world as far as a career," Wojtusik said.
Certain careers that often require teamwork.
"Challenging part is working with a team because you don't always agree on the same thing," said 12-year-old Louis Malais. "When you build a robot you do the most teamwork than I think in any other job."
As their final project, students design and build their own version of a remote control robot.
They are required to work in teams to sketch a vision, make prototypes and design a working model with aluminum.
"It's not just you know operating a piece of machinery, it's learning how that machinery is put together," Wojtusik said.
Students are piecing together machines and building future careers at the same time.
"If I were to get an opportunity to do something like this in the future, I would definitely take it," Timm said.
Throughout the course of the camp, students were exposed to prototyping, brainstorming, modeling, safety and sketching.
The last day of the robotics camp is scheduled to be Thursday, July 28.
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