National Weather Service
George Twigg, communications director for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, checks in with a city advisory urging area residents to get ready for the Big One.
With the National Weather Service issuing a winter storm watch for the area and forecasters predicting heavy snow and high winds throughout the weekend, Mayor Dave suggests this "could be the most significant winter storm we've had for several years," in the release. The Madison Fire Department's Emergency Preparedness Office and other city agencies are joining in the call to take precautions.
The outlook details depend on your forecaster.
The NWS's winter storm watch notes the possibility of eight to 12 inches of snow accumulation across south-central and southeast Wisconsin, aggravated by strong easterly winds that may result in significant blowing, drifting and near-blizzard conditions.
WMTV's Charlie Shortino predicts light snow and an inch of accumulation tonight, with a low of 25, followed by another 1-2 inches and a high of 30 Saturday, then the brunt of the storm with six inches of snow and a low of 25 Saturday night, finishing with another 1-2 inches Sunday for a total of seven to 10 inches.
Moving up the dial, WISC's chief meteorologist, Gary Cannalte, predicts light snow tonight and Saturday, with the brunt of the storm hitting Saturday night into Sunday and totalling more than six inches in some areas.
Meanwhile, The Weather Channel suggests an 80% chance of snow tonight with a low of 21 degrees and east winds at 15-25 miles per hour; a 90% chance of snow on Saturday with accelerating accumulations in the afternoon, a high of 31 and east winds at 25-35 mph; and accumulations of five to eight inches overnight Saturday into Sunday, with a low of 26 degrees and east winds at 25-35 mph, subsiding into flurries sometime Sunday or Monday.
Snowplows will be on the roads throughout the storm, focusing on bus routes, the city's main traffic thoroughfares and connector streets before shifting to residential streets after the storm tails off.
Area residents are advised to complete any pressing errands today and be prepared to encounter difficult travel conditions throughout the duration of the storm. City officials anticipate issuing a snow emergency declaration for the downtown area after the storm lifts, putting into effect on-street parking prohibitions for much of the isthmus. (For more information on snow emergencies and free parking in City of Madison ramps during the declaration, phone 266-9111 or examine the Snow Emergency FAQ provided by the city's Streets & Recycling Department.)
Area residents are also advised to don appropriate dress for the weather conditions and avoid overexertion and take frequent breaks while shoveling. Fire hydrants nearest your residence should be kept free of snow and ice to a five-foot radius.
Residents are further cautioned against unnecessary driving during winter storms, to allow plows to clear roads. Drivers who must venture out are urged to slow down, increase following distance, keep a full tank of fuel and have blankets, showels, cell phones and a winter safety kit in their car in the eventuality that they become stranded.
The same precautions are advised while riding out any winter storm at home. Stock up on water, food and other provisions. Keep flashlights and batteries on hand to use instead of candles in case of power outages. Keep your heating equipment in safe working condition. Avoid using space heaters -- but, if you must use them, be sure to maintain at least three feet of clearance around each unit. And check with the American Red Cross for other emergency preparation tips and advice on contents for home safety kits.
And be sure to check in with your neighbors, make sure they're O.K. and help them out if they're in distress. Big winter storms hit all of us, and we're all better off when we ride them out together.