A long-lasting winter storm brought freezing drizzle to parts of southern Wisconsin Monday night, closing dozens of schools north and west of Milwaukee Tuesday.
A light freezing drizzle moved into counties north of Milwaukee just after 8 p.m. and school districts well north and west of Milwaukee already began announcing closures Tuesday night Monday.
As of 2 a.m., the immediate Milwaukee area was experiencing cold rain as temperatures remained above freezing. This was likely to hold true until the wee hours of the morning.
Ice from freezing rain and sleet will make travel difficult in southeastern Wisconsin through Tuesday evening, meteorologists said.
A foot of snow was expected in northern Wisconsin, but virtually no snow is expected south of Fond du Lac and Sheboygan, according to the National Weather Service. Impressive totals were reported by North Woods to the National Weather Service, including 21 inches of snow in Washburn as of 5 p.m.
On untreated roads, ice is worse than snow, said Paul Collar, a meteorologist with the Sullivan Weather Services office.
“It’s going to be tough,” Collar said of travel conditions in southeastern Wisconsin. “It doesn’t take a lot of ice for the roads to get really slippery.”
Freezing drizzle formed in south-central Wisconsin shortly after 7 p.m. and was moving northeast. It had spread to Dodge, Washington and Ozaukee counties by 8 p.m.
On the state’s 551 road condition map, green “good winter driving” slowly turned to purple “slippery sections” as the rain moved across the state. As of 9 p.m., roads northwest of Madison in the Dells area were covered in ice. At 10 p.m., the roads from Beaver Dam to Manitowoc were covered in ice, and by midnight, the roads from Madison to Sturgeon Bay were icy.
As of 2 a.m., the only major traffic situation in southeastern Wisconsin was the closure of I-43 northbound in Sheboygan County at Rowe Rd. due to a jack-knifed semi.
Schools well north and west of Milwaukee have already begun announcing Tuesday closures at 8 p.m. Monday. Among them: Germantown Schools, Beaver Dam School District, Hartford Union High School, Kewaskum Schools, Hustisford Schools, Slinger School District and Waupun. Madison Public Schools also closed late Monday night. You can check all school closures here.
The peak of the storm is expected from 10:00 p.m. Monday to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday. The system will decrease around 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday.
A winter weather advisory went into effect Monday at 5 p.m. for most of southeastern Wisconsin and at 11 p.m. for Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties.
Meteorologists are predicting one-tenth to one-quarter inch ice accumulation in the area. More could be possible if more freezing rain falls than sleet, according to the weather service. Rain showers and even thunderstorms are also possible.
Power cuts are also a concern.
“Heavy ice buildup can weigh down branches and cause them to snap and fall into our power lines and equipment,” We Energies spokeswoman Amy Jahns said.
“We are closely monitoring the weather and updating staffing plans to have crews available if needed,” Jahns said in a statement.
People should stay away from downed power lines and should notify We Energies or law enforcement. To contact We Energies in the event of a power outage, use the utility’s mobile app, call 800-662-4797, or visit we-energies.com/OutageManagement.
As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, no power outages due to ice were reported.
Storm to affect the entire state
This winter storm is unlike most, said Rebecca Hykin, a meteorologist with the Green Bay Weather Services office.
So far this winter, most storms have been affected by mower systems that move faster and accumulate a lot of snow in 6-12 hours. This storm, however, is moving more slowly with a low pressure system coming in on Monday and the bulk of the precipitation coming in on Tuesday.
The storm will affect the entire state.
By Monday morning, the winter storm had already started in far northern Wisconsin, where towns like Ashland and Hurley could receive 12 to 18 inches of snow.
Central Wisconsin will see a chance of snow later in the evening Monday through Tuesday. According to the weather service, Wood and Portage counties could see 2 to 4 inches of snow by Tuesday evening, while Wausau could see 3 to 5 inches with higher snowfall amounts expected in the northern part of the county. Marathon,” Hykin said.
There is also potential for freezing rain and sleet in central Wisconsin, which could impact snowfall totals, she said.
The eastern part of the state, including Fox Valley and the lakeshore, could see snow, but the weather service expects to see more of a winter mix, with most precipitation occurring late at night. from Monday to Tuesday. This area could see accumulations of ice and sleet.
Snowfall forecasts for the eastern part of the state include 1 to 2 inches at Green Bay, less than an inch at Appleton and south, 1 to 2 inches at Sturgeon Bay, 2 to 3 inches at Sister Bay, Oconto and Marinette and less than an inch along Lake Michigan.
Hykin said drivers in the Northwoods and north-central Wisconsin could see an impact on their commute Monday night. The storm could affect Tuesday morning travel across the state, but the biggest impact is expected to be Tuesday evening, as the bulk of the snow and winter mix is expected to occur Tuesday afternoon, according to the meteorological service.
Fond du Lac could see up to 0.25 inches of ice accumulation while Sheboygan could get up to 0.5 inches.
Wisconsin Weather Radar
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Snow expected Wednesday, Thursday
After freezing rain and sleet on Monday and Tuesday, the forecast for southeastern Wisconsin calls for snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday.
Sullivan Weather Services meteorologists are not yet certain of exact snowfall totals, but several inches are possible, especially along Lake Michigan.
The system is expected to begin Wednesday evening with lake effect snowfall. More snow on Thursday will also have improvements at the lake, Collar said.
Temperatures are forecast to drop to 32 degrees with thunderstorms on Monday evening and are expected to stay below freezing throughout the week.