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Miserable forecast won't halt Madison traditions, but crowds may be thin

Miserable forecast won't halt Madison traditions, but crowds may be thin


The daffodils may be buried in snow, but an April blizzard won’t scuttle any of Downtown Madison’s oldest spring traditions.

The Crazylegs Classic 8K race and the unsanctioned drinking event known as the Mifflin Street Block Party are both scheduled to take place Saturday — along with the weekly Dane County Farmers’ Market — despite a winter weather warning and the potential for up to 7 inches of snow.

Potentially historic snowstorm set to pummel southern Wisconsin Saturday. See how much might fall and when

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for southern Wisconsin from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Snow accumulation of 5 to 7 inches is expected south of Interstate 90, with higher totals possible in some areas. Wind gusts of up to 30 mph are expected to make for treacherous travel conditions.

Snow is expected to start in the Madison area during the mid-morning hours and continue through the early evening. Snowfall rates during the afternoon could reach 1 inch per hour, with warm pavement temperatures resulting in a rapid slushy accumulation.

Strong wind

Curious to get closer to the waves on Lake Mendota, Felix Hume, 9, got more than he bargained for as strong winds sent water spraying across the shoreline Friday at James Madison Park. Wind gusts of up to 30 mph and snow accumulation of 5 to 7 inches are possible Saturday, when a winter storm warning will be in effect.

The weather might deter some of the nearly 11,000 runners registered for the 38th Crazylegs, said race director Ryan Richards. But it wouldn’t be the first time the race was run in the snow.

About 6,000 runners toed the line as snow began falling on April 30, 1994, when Madison got a record 7.8 inches of snow. Some said that wasn’t as bad as the rain, sleet and wind of 1988.

“We’ve had almost every single type of weather,” Richards said.

Crazylegs Run start April 30, 1994

Elroy Hirsch, center, and Arlie Mucks, right, send off runners at the start of the 13th annual Crazylegs Run during a snowstorm on April 30, 1994. 

Now in its 50th year, the Mifflin Street Block Party can draw up to 20,000 revelers from the UW-Madison and far beyond looking to celebrate spring with adult beverages.

Ald. Mike Verveer, who’s attended each of the last 24 parties, said he expects a low turnout this year — which could be good news for city workers tasked with patroling the event.

“Mother Nature is the number one influencer of what the turnout is like,” he said. “From a public safety perspective, I’d say the dismal weather forecast is for the best.”

While the weather “presents some unique challenges,” Madison police spokeswoman Julie Laundrie said the department will staff the events as it has in years past.

Snow won’t cancel the Dane County Farmers’ Market on Capitol Square, which opens at 6:15 a.m., but it might limit the pickings later in the day.

Manager Sarah Elliott said there should be a good selection of ramps and radishes, as well as the first asparagus of the season. But she encouraged shoppers to come early as vendors aren’t required to stay till the end.

“We are rain, shine or snow, as the case may be,” Elliott said. “I have a pile of winter clothes laid out.”

Farmers Market

Gary Morton, of Kopke's Green House, Oregon, with some of the flowers and plants being sold on the first day of this year's Dane County Farmers Market, April 13, 2019, on the Capitol Square.

The city’s new professional soccer team, Forward Madison FC, is scheduled to play its first league home game Saturday night at Breese Stevens Field.

The club says only a few hundred tickets remain for the stadium, which has been expanded to hold about 5,000 spectators.

“We’re prepared to play tomorrow night,” said Conor Caloia, chief operating officer of Big Top Sports and Entertainment, which operates the stadium and Forward Madison.

Caloia said the club has been talking with league officials and has plans to clear the field of snow if necessary. In a post on the club’s website, head coach Daryl Shore said he hopes there will be an orange or yellow ball available.

“A lot of people in the community have put a lot of work into this,” Caloia said. “Our hope is to have a historic night.”



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