Madison declares snow emergency, bitter cold with strong winds to follow potent storm

Madison declares snow emergency, bitter cold with strong winds to follow potent storm

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The city of Madison has declared a snow emergency following a potent storm that dumped several inches of snow across the area.

Alternate side parking rules will be enforced throughout the entire city during the overnight hours.

Crews have begun plowing city streets and will continue throughout the day and into the night. The city is asking people not to park on streets while they are being cleared. It typically takes 12 to 16 hours to plow all city streets.

Commuting through the city on Saturday will be difficult, with winds expected to increase throughout the day, meaning outlying areas may experience blowing and drifting snow.

Though the snowfall is over, it's not the end of the harsh weather, as wind chill values are set to plunge in the wake of the storm, according to forecasters.

The city is recommending homeowners shovel the sidewalks and driveways before snow freezes in place. 

Officially, 4.7 inches of snow was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Friday, topped by another 1.1 inches Saturday, boosting Madison’s January and 2020 snow total to 12.5 inches, 5.4 inches above normal.

The heaviest snow had moved out of south-central Wisconsin by midnight.

A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday for much of the state, with light precipitation continuing through the day before the ice and snow move out, strong winds move in and temperatures plummet, the National Weather Service said.

Saturday forecast by AccuWeather

Possible snow totals during the day include around an inch in Madison, less than an inch in La Crosse and Eau Claire, around 2 inches in Green Bay, and none in Racine, the Weather Service said.

In south-central Wisconsin, a wintry mix of light freezing rain, freezing drizzle and snow will transition back to snow this morning, with gusty west winds moving in that will reach 35 to 40 miles per hour.

Wind chills are expected to fall to 15 below to 25 below zero overnight, and a wind chill advisory may be needed for south-central Wisconsin

Sunday forecast by AccuWeather

Nationally, the massive storm brought blizzard conditions to the Plains, damaging freezing rain to the Midwest, and heavy snow to the Great Lakes, with dangerous cold to follow, that might see temperatures not rise above zero on Saturday and Sunday in the northern Plains, AccuWeather reported.

Conditions were so bad that all flights were halted at O’Hare International Airport for hours on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration lifted the stop at 9:45 p.m., but by then hundreds of flights already were canceled Friday at one of the nation's busiest airports, while hundreds of flights also were canceled at numerous other airports across the center of the country.

The latest road conditions for the state are available by calling 511, going to the 511 app, or the 511 website.

The Madison Streets Division said citywide plowing will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and a snow emergency will be in effect overnight, meaning alternate side parking rules will be enforced throughout the city during the overnight hours. Winter parking information is at the city website.

Streets Division plows have been circling through salt routes since the storm began Friday, and crews will remain on the salt routes until they are in good winter driving condition.

Including the salt route trucks, and other equipment from the Streets Division, Parks Division, Engineering Division, and heavy equipment contractors, approximately 150 pieces of equipment will be out plowing the roads, bus pads, and other city-maintained areas once the citywide plowing gets underway.

In Madison on Saturday, look for snow, possibly mixed with freezing rain before 11 a.m., and patchy blowing snow after noon, with about an inch of snow and little to no ice accumulation possible. Temperatures should rise to ear 33 by 11 a.m., then fall to around 18 by 5 p.m., with south winds at 10 to 15 mph becoming west winds at 20 to 25 mph, gusting to 40 mph, the Weather Service said.

Overnight, the low should fall to around zero, with west winds at 20 to 25 mph, gusting as high as 40 mph, producing wind chill values of 10 below to 20 below.

Sunday’s forecast features a chance of flurries, partly sunny skies, a high near 13 and northwest winds at 15 to 20 mph, gusting as high as 25 mph, producing wind chill values of 10 below to 20 below.

The Weather Service said there’s a chance for flurries Sunday night and Monday, a 20% chance for snow showers Wednesday, a 40% chance for snow showers Wednesday night, a 30% chance for snow showers Thursday, a 40% chance for rain and snow showers Thursday night, and a 30% chance for rain and snow showers Friday.

Skies over Madison should be mostly sunny Monday, sunny Tuesday, mostly cloudy Wednesday, and cloudy Thursday and Friday, with highs near 19, 21, 32, 37 and 38, and lows Sunday night through Thursday night around 6, 1, 12, 28 and 30.

Friday’s high in Madison was 28 at 11:59 p.m., 2 degrees above the normal high and 26 degrees below the record high of 54 for Jan. 17, set in 1894.

Friday’s low in Madison was 1 at 3:40 a.m., 10 degrees below the normal low and 27 degrees above the record low of 26 below for Jan. 17, set in 1982.

Officially, 0.29 inches of precipitation was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Friday, boosting Madison’s January and 2020 precipitation total (rain plus snow converted to liquid) to 1.01 inches, 0.32 inches above normal. The meteorological winter (December through February) total rose to 2.53 inches, 0.1 inches above normal.

Madison’s record precipitation for Jan. 17 is 0.5 inches, set in 1877.

Officially, 4.7 inches of snow was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Friday, boosting Madison’s January and 2020 snow total to 11.4 inches, 4.3 inches above normal. For meteorological winter, Madison has received 14.3 inches, 6.3 inches below normal. For the snow season (since July 1), Madison has received 30 inches, 5.3 inches above normal.

Madison’s record snowfall for Jan. 17 is 5 inches, set in 1953.


Photos: Remembering Madison's Groundhog Day blizzard of 2011

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