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Madison preparing for 'extremely dangerous conditions' with snowstorm, cold snap to hit Wisconsin
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Madison preparing for 'extremely dangerous conditions' with snowstorm, cold snap to hit Wisconsin

From the Deep freeze: Read our coverage of the early 2019 polar vortex in southern Wisconsin series
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Madison snow plow, State Journal generic file photo

Madison and surrounding communities are preparing for a snowstorm overnight Sunday that could drop a foot of snow across southern Wisconsin to be followed by bitter days where temperatures are likely not to get above zero.

Snow plowing efforts in Madison will begin Sunday as snow is forecast to begin falling around 9 p.m. and continue throughout the night and into Monday morning. The storm is expected to impact city services, which could be compounded by dangerous temperatures with highs Tuesday through Thursday not predicted to break zero and lows reaching more than minus 20 degrees.

"The expectations has to be these are extremely dangerous conditions, and people have to understand that health and safety is our highest priority," Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said at a news conference Sunday. "Functioning normal, in terms of city services, is simply not going to happen."

All Madison School District schools will be closed Monday, and MSCR, athletics and other evening activities have been canceled.

The district said it will monitor weather conditions and cold temperatures to make decisions about school in the days to come.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said on Twitter Sunday evening that all non-essential county services will be closed Monday.

Madison has declared a snow emergency for overnight Sunday that could last for several days throughout the week. Salt is generally not effective in clearing snow and ice from roads at temperatures below 18 degrees, said Madison Streets Superintendent Charlie Romines.

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"With the very cold temperatures, salt will not be an option for us," Romines said. "People who do have to get out should expect to see snow-covered roads."

Police Chief Mike Koval anticipated the department will go on priority-only calls throughout the snowstorm, limiting responses to crashes with injuries or those blocking major thoroughfares.

Additionally, Soglin said non-essential city offices and services, such as libraries, might not be open Monday, but the decision won't be made until the morning.

Romines said he anticipates "for the first time in a number of years, we're going to have to do some major snow hauling from the Downtown area."

Snowstorm, cold snap presser

Mayor Paul Soglin and heads of city departments address the city's preparations for the overnight snowstorm and days of bitter cold to follow.

Garbage and recycling collection in Madison will not occur Monday to free staff for snow removal operations, Romines said. Curbside, large-item collection is suspended for the entire week, and the city's two yard waste drop-off sites at 1501 W. Badger Road and 4602 Sycamore Ave. will be closed all week as well, he said.

Residents who have waste collected on Monday should either try to hold it until next week or put their carts at the curb by 7 a.m. Thursday to either be collected by city staff Thursday or Friday. The drop-off sites are anticipated to reopen on Feb. 4.

The overnight snowstorm follows 4.5 inches that fell more than a week ago, and nearly 7 inches from a storm on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Nine days ago we had green grass and bare streets," Romines said.

Soglin urged residents not to park on the street unless it is absolutely necessary.

"The toughest part of plowing, the toughest part in terms of moving through the city, are cars that are parked," he said.

With a snow emergency in Madison in effect, residents throughout the city, including the Snow Emergency Zone of the Isthmus, Downtown and Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods, need to follow the alternate-side parking regulations.

Overnight Sunday, people should park on the side of the street with even-numbered houses as snow plows will be coming through from 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. Monday. Parking overnight Monday into Tuesday will require people to park on the odd-numbered side of streets. Romines said he expects those living in the Snow Emergency Zone to face parking restrictions "for most of the next week."

Violations of the snow emergency could net a $60 ticket. The city said those parked on the following streets will be ticketed and towed:

  • 300 block of S. Hamilton St.
  • All of W. Doty St.
  • 100 to 300 blocks, 700 to 800 blocks of W. Washington Ave.
  • 300 to 600 blocks of W. Mifflin St.
  • 10 N Bedford St. to 300 S. Bedford St.
  • 10 to 200 blocks of W. Gilman St.
  • 300 to 500 blocks of N. Carroll St.
  • 300 to 600 blocks of N. Henry St.
  • 200, 300 and 500 blocks of Wisconsin Ave.
  • 200 to 10 blocks of N. Baldwin St.
  • 200 to 500 blocks of E. Mifflin St.
  • 100 to 300 blocks of N. Hamilton St.
  • All of N. Hancock St.
  • All of S. Hancock St.
  • All of N. Franklin St.
  • All of S. Franklin St.
  • All of N. Blair St.
  • E. Johnson St. from Blair St. to Baldwin St.

Janesville, McFarland, Monona and Sun Prairie have also declared snow emergencies that bar on-street parking.

Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis said the department is concerned how the sub-zero temperatures might affect its water-carrying vehicles, such as fire engines and ladders.

"We're very concerned about the arctic air and temperatures throughout the week," he said. "Cold temperatures like this and water don't mix real well."

Davis said the fire department will try to respond to non fire-related incidents with its vehicles that don't carry water.

Madison Schools to Close Monday, January 28


All Madison schools will be closed Monday, January 28 due to weather conditions. All school buildings will be closed for the entire day and evening. MSCR, athletics and other evening activities will also be canceled for Monday.


The district will also continue monitoring weather conditions and cold temperatures to make decisions about school in the days to come.


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