Another week means another snowstorm, in Madison and around southern Wisconsin. Upwards of six inches of snow had fallen in Dane County by the time of the morning commute, with much heavier totals found farther to the south and east. As detailed in a report from the National Weather Service:
Yet another major winter storm is impacting south-central and southeast Wisconsin today. This will be a long duration event coupled with strong gusty winds and some thunder thrown in. Blowing and drifting snow will compound the effects of the heavy snow. Total new snow accumulations in excess of 12 inches will occur in the area southeast of a line from Dubuque, Iowa to Evansville to Jefferson to West Bend to Sheboygan. 15 to 18" is possible along and just north of the Interstate 43 line from Janesville to Waukesha and Milwaukee. Total snow amounts will taper off to 10 inches in the Madison area, and 6 inches in Wisconsin Dells.
The bulk of the snow will fall this morning, and gradually decrease from west to east this afternoon. Occasional heavy snowfall rates of 1 inch or more per hour are likely through about 3 p.m. this afternoon in that area where a total of 12 inches or more are expected. The winds will be out of the northeast gusting to between 25 and 35 mph. This will generate blowing and drifting snow, especially in open areas. Visibilities will drop to below 1/4 mile at times at the height of the storm, and west-east orientated roads will experience considerable drifting, perhaps 2 to 4 foot drifts.
These conditions are naturally significantly impacting this mid-week workday, with numerous delays and cancellations at the Dane County Regional Airport and poor road conditions throughout the region. Most schools across a broad swath of the state are closed today, including the Madison Metropolitan School District, it's second weather related closing in two weeks yet only third total in nearly a decade-and-a-half.
The City of Madison, meanwhile, has declared a Snow Emergency, the ninth so far of the season. Alternate side parking restrictions will remain in effect on the isthmus until 7 a.m. on Friday, February 8. There is free parking in city-owned ramps, though, from 9 p.m. through 7 a.m. during this period, as well at outdoor lots at Olbrich Park, Burr Jones Park, and the Tenney Park boat landing. Streets Superintendent Al Schumacher described the city's approach to clearing the snow in a morning email to alders:
We will be concentrating on keeping the main arterials open throughout the day but will have some additional units plowing some of the problematic residential areas that are drifting, have serious hills or curves, etc. We will be utilizing over 70 pieces of equipment during the day. We will commence the plowing of all residential streets at around 3:00 p.m. this afternoon with the assistance of our hired contractors. At that time, we will have between 150 and 160 pieces of equipment on the road plowing.More information about Snow Emergency rules in the city is available from its Streets Division.
UW-Madison remains open, meanwhile, unsurprising since the university hasn't canceled morning classes for weather reasons since 1990. However, it did release a statement urging faculty, staff and students to use their discretion amidst the winter store:
Students who feel it is unsafe to travel to campus should contact their professors or teaching assistants about making up missed class time.
"We realize that we're facing difficult conditions today, but it's important for the university to stay open whenever feasible," says UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell. "That being said, we are going to be very flexible and sympathetic in handling requests for absences from both students and employees. Decisions must be made on the basis of personal safety."
Employees are advised to use their own discretion regarding their health and safety and that of their family members, but they are required to use accrued holiday, vacation or compensation time to cover any absences. Supervisors are advised to be flexible in their approval of employee-requested leave in inclement weather situations.
WISC reporter Jessica Arp is live-blogging the storm, meanwhile, focusing particularly on the driving conditions around town. "It's one thing to wake up and see this storm cheer for a snow day, or call in sick to work," she writes. "It's completely another to actually have to drive in this weather for a living!"
Ongoing storm reports and snowfall totals are being provided by the National Weather Service.