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2018 storm

A large snow sculpture sits on UW-Madison's Library Mall after more than 7 inches of snow fell in the area on April 18, 2018. 

A powerful spring storm system is expected to sweep across the Upper Midwest this week, bringing a mix of heavy rain, snow and high winds.

The National Weather Service says up to 8 inches of snow is possible across northern Wisconsin, which could cause power outages and make travel nearly impossible.

“Old Man Winter is not done with Wisconsin yet,” said Todd Rieck, a National Weather Service meteorologist in La Crosse.

Precipitation is expected to start Wednesday morning in southwestern Wisconsin and move northward. The greatest threat for snow is Wednesday night into Thursday, Rieck said.

The heaviest accumulations are expected north of the Interstate 90 corridor, while areas to the south could see a mix of snow, ice and rain.

“Everyone’s going to get some,” said Marcia Cronce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Milwaukee.

Accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible around Madison, though possibly only on grassy surfaces.

“It won’t last long,” Rieck said.

Precipitation — mostly in the form of rain — is expected to continue through Friday, with totals of up to 2 inches possible.

That could cause some streams and rivers to rise, but not to the level seen in last month’s flooding.

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“The ground is no longer frozen,” Cronce said. “We’ll be able to handle a lot of water soaking into the ground.”

Sunshine should return for the weekend, though high temperatures will be only in the 40s. The normal high for this time of year in Madison is about 54 degrees.

Monday’s high of 73 degrees was 4 degrees shy of the record for April 8.

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Front page of the Wisconsin State Journal, April 10, 1973
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April 1973 snowfall
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April 1973 snowfall
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April 1973 snowfall
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April 1973 snowfall

As unwelcome as they may be, April snow showers are a fact of life in Wisconsin. And May snowfalls are not unheard of: Madison has twice recorded measurable snowfall as late as May 11 (in 1966 and 2006).

On average, snow falls in Madison about four times each April, according to National Weather Service records dating back to 1884.

Just last year there were three April snowfalls, including 7.2 inches on the April 18.

And on this day in 1973, Madison was buried under 12.9 inches of snow after a storm packing 53-mph winds swept across the Midwest, halting nearly all travel in the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported five deaths blamed on that storm, including a Mount Horeb teenager killed in a car crash and four people who suffered heart attacks while clearing snow.

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