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Snow expected to affect weekend travel

By Gary Cannalte,
Published On: Dec 19 2013 04:47:31 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 20 2013 11:53:52 AM CST

Icy roads caused dozens of area school districts to cancel class Friday and heavy snowfall is expected Saturday night into Sunday in southern Wisconsin.

Freezing rain fell throughout the night in southern Wisconsin, and the National Weather Service has extended the freezing rain advisory for the area until 3 p.m.

Madison Streets Superintendent Chris Kelly said most of the city's main streets are in good winter driving condition, but they are wet from the salt but slippery in spots.

Kelly said residential streets where salt hasn't been applied are icy and slippery. Kelly said the roads are drivable, but that drivers have to go slower than normal.

Kelly said eight extra trucks were called in at 2 a.m. to start sanding residential streets, which means the city now has 30 salt trucks out, along with 8 sanding trucks.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said Interstate 90/94 was ice covered between Tomah and Mauston, as well as Highways 41, 45 and 23 to the east.

Ice accumulations of one-tenth to two-tenths occurred overnight.  Any untreated surfaces are ice covered and slippery.  A mixture of freezing rain, freezing drizzle and light snow is expected to continue through this afternoon.  Any additional ice accumulations will be less than 0.10 inches.

Snowfall of an inch or two is possible well north of Madison. Any snowfall elsewhere should remain less than an inch.

Meanwhile, a major winter storm is expected to form in eastern Oklahoma or western Arkansas on Saturday, heading northeastward to southern Ontario in Canada by late Sunday afternoon.

At this time, it looks as if the heaviest snowfall will occur in a corridor centered from around Moline, Ill., to Janesville  and Milwaukee. Snowfall amounts in this area should range from 5 to 10 inches, with some locally higher amounts. This path may fluctuate a little, but the heaviest snowfall is expected over southern Wisconsin.

Just south of the axis of the heaviest snow, some mixed precipitation in the form of freezing rain, sleet and rain may limit snowfall totals, but may still lead to treacherous travel conditions because of icy roads. Farther to the north, lighter snowfall of several inches is expected.

Strong winds during and after the snow will lead to considerable blowing and drifting, making for very difficult travel. Also, very cold air will arrive after the snow Sunday night and Monday morning, with temperatures falling to around zero by early Monday, while strong winds create wind chills of 10 to 20 degrees below zero.

The southern portion of the storm may bring severe thunderstorms and some tornadoes in the warmer air on Saturday from eastern Texas to southeastern Missouri, and on Sunday from the Carolinas to Alabama and the Gulf Coast.

If you have travel plans over this weekend over the eastern third of the country, make sure you monitor the latest forecasts, and be prepared to expect travel delays, or to possibly rearrange your travel plans.

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