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Snow plow armada

Trailed by a police escort, an armada of nine Dane County snow plows clears snow from the westbound lanes of the Beltline Wednesday morning.

If you don't have to go anywhere in south-central Wisconsin on Wednesday, just stay put. If you do have to drive, slow down and stay on the road.

That's the message from public safety officials following a drawn out snowstorm that started Tuesday evening and stretched to mid-morning Wednesday, making for slippery and snow-packed highways, slide-offs and canceled schools.

"Stay off the roads," a Dane County 911 dispatcher said. "There's been a lot of slide-offs."

The most serious crash was on Highway 51 in Rock County south of Edgerton, that results in all lanes being blocked around 7:15 a.m.

In Madison, police were only responding to crashes that involve blockage or injuries.

All roads in Wisconsin are either snow covered or have slippery stretches, and in parts of central and northern Wisconsin, travel is not advised, according to the state highway travel map, found online at https://511wi.gov/map#:Alerts. Reports can also be given by phone at 511.

Just about every school in the area is closed, except for the biggest school, UW-Madison.

Students who can't make it to campus are advised to contact their instructors, and employees who can't make it in are asked to contact their supervisors.

Madison Area Technical College campuses were supposed to open at 1 p.m., but officials have now called off classes for Wednesday, starting up again on Thursday.

Over 140 public school districts and individual private schools are closed throughout southwestern and south-central Wisconsin. A full list can be found at Channel3000.com.

Numerous day care centers, senior centers and other organizations also are closed, so check with your provider before heading out.

Many cities and villages declared snow emergencies, with different rules applying in each community. 

Madison tow trucks are pulling illegally-parked vehicles off Downtown streets so plows can work on those streets.

Madison Streets spokesman Bryan Johnson said a general snow removal operation is going on in the city, and plows, salters and sanders will be out all day Wednesday.

"All of the streets are snow covered, and they will look that way most of the day," Johnson said.

The main salt routes are being worked on the most, with plows covering the same streets to keep those streets open with as little snow on the pavement as possible.

Crews have been out for two full days, and it could be another full day of snow work before the city can pull back on the effort.

People that had their vehicles towed can probably find them a block or two away, with a $60 ticket and extra cost for towing, on the windshield.

For Wednesday night, people should park on the even house-numbered side of the street in all areas of Madison, including the snow emergency zone Downtown, on the Isthmus and the Near West Side.

Free parking is available in city-owned ramps, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

With frigid temperatures coming our way by Friday, Johnson said it is very important for crews to get snow off the streets before it freezes to pavement.

"If we can't scrape the snow because of the cold, it could be a long time before a street is clear," he said.

For anyone flying today, operations are normal at the Dane County Regional Airport.

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