Man's death likely medically-related; State shuts down EOS as storm subsidesA 66-year-old rural Ellsworth man who was found dead near a barn outside his residence was probably medically-related, not exposure to the elements as was initially thought Wednesday when authorities were called.
A 66-year-old rural Ellsworth man who was found dead near a barn outside his residence was probably medically-related, not exposure to the elements as was initially thought Wednesday when authorities were called. Pierce County sheriff's investigator Mike Waltz is withholding the man's name until additional family members can be contacted.
The farmstead where he died is located about four miles northeast of Ellsworth.
The man was pronounced dead at about 2 p.m., by Jane Drazkowski, deputy Pierce County Medical Examiner.
Pierce and St. Croix County highway crews continue to mop up from Tuesday night and Wednesday's snowfall, clearing drifts left behind by high winds.
All area schools were back in session Thursday.
State officials closed their Emergency Operations Center about 8 p.m, Wednesday, shortly after the National Weather Service cancelled a blizzard warning -- essentially acknowledging that the storm was over, according to communications manager Lori Getter.
She said the first major snow storm of the season left a lot of snow -- up to 18.5 inches at Madison and a foot at Eau Claire -- but very little in the way of emergencies.
"I think we were prepared for this storm," said Larry Reed, deputy administrator for Wisconsin Emergency Management.
The Wisconsin National Guard, however, maintained its alert until 6 a.m. Thursday. At a Joint Operations Center meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of Wisconsin, agreed with Brig. Gen. Scott Legwold's assessment that keeping Guard members through the entire second stand-by shift across the state accomplished two objectives - it alleviated nighttime driving with the potential risks of drifting snow and ice from falling temperatures, and it still allowed for a timely response in the event of power outages requiring emergency warming shelters.
Reed said that Gov. Jim Doyle's early declaration of a state of emergency underscored to state government and the public how serious a threat the storm was considered.
He also said coordination between agencies in the EOC - the state Department of Transportation highways division, State Patrol, Department of Natural Resources, the National Weather Service, the National Guard and various other state agency officials - was strong.
Eleven wardens in the north east region and six in the south central region (four-wheel drive vehicles coordinating through State Patrol) drove the sections of interstate and state highways providing extra eyes for situational awareness and public safety. A total of 97 wardens were on stand-by throughout this event.
As the storm came and went, Reed said that county authorities did not request state assistance.
Weather-related incidents that did occur - traffic accidents, some power outages - were handled at the local level. Emergency shelters that had opened for citizens displaced because of the storm saw few people, Reed said.
A wind chill advisory remained in effect for most of the state through late morning.