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WISCONSIN WEATHER ROUND-UP: Some schools want weather waivers due to historic cold

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news Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

State law requires public schools to be in session for 180 days a year -- but some school officials say the mandate should be waived due to Wisconsin's coldest weather since 1996.  

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State officials say there's almost no chance of that happening.  Most Wisconsin schools are closed for a second straight day -- and at least some have used up their allotments of "snow days" they budget each year.  It means they'll have to add at least one day to end of their school years in June.  Menomonee Falls is among them.  Superintendent Pat Greco says it's one thing to plan for snow each winter, but the historic cold justifies an exception to the 180-day class requirement.  She said there's at least some interest among superintendents in southeast Wisconsin to ask for a two-day waiver.  But John Johnson of the Department of Public Instruction says schools have faced these types of problems a number of times before -- and it's no different this time.  It was no problem until about 15 years ago, when schools were forced to wait until after Labor Day to open their fall classes so tourist businesses could keep their teenage workers.  That stretched the end of the school year from before Memorial Day to as late as mid-June.  It's supposed to be a few degrees warmer tomorrow -- and many school officials say they'll re-open then.

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Almost a-thousand electric customers in Wisconsin were without power overnight, as the coldest cold-snap in 18 years continues.  We Energies said over 730 customers in Jefferson and Waukesha counties had no electricity at 4 a.m. Most of the outages were near Dousman.  Wisconsin Public Service said 220 customers were out at Sister Bay in Door County, where it's more than 10-degrees colder than it was early yesterday.  Madison Gas-and-Electric restored power to all its customers, after 900 in the Monona area were in the dark last evening.  Wisconsin Emergency Management had scattered reports of broken water pipes and mains, but spokesman Tod Pritchard said it was generally "so far, so good."  Wisconsin airline passengers are facing numerous delays and cancellations, due mainly to nasty weather in other parts of the country.  A state office building near the Capitol was evacuated yesterday -- but it was for burning popcorn, not the cold.  Most schools in the state are closed again, with 4 a.m. temperatures ranging from 12-below at Prairie du Chien to 25-below at Hayward, Rhinelander, Phillips, and Ladysmith.  Wind-chills are in the minus-30's-and-40's.  Forecasters expect us to spend two more days in the deep freeze.  Highs are supposed to get above zero today in the south, and tomorrow statewide.  A warming trend begins Thursday, with highs in the teens. We could see the 30's again by the weekend. 

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Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is warning drivers to look out for black ice on roadways. A spokesperson says there has already been several reports of accidents related to black ice today. Bridges and ramps are more susceptible to black ice, but blowing snow in some areas is not helping either. Black ice is a thin layer of slick ice, nearly invisible to a person in the driver’s seat.  WisDoT recommends slowing down and taking time getting to your destinations.

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This extreme cold weather is going to help control an extreme invasive species. The Emerald Ash Borer won’t be eradicated by the cold, but this week's temperatures will help. The U.S. Forest Service says 34 percent of larvae die at 10 below, 79 percent die at 20 below, and 98 percent of the larvae die at 30 below. At these bitter cold temperatures, the fluid inside the larvae turns to ice, which tears up their organs. A few days of 30 below zero will go a long way to preserving the state’s ash trees. 

_______________________ Wisconsin's largest school district will close for a second straight day.  The Milwaukee Public Schools will have their first two-day closure since February of 2007.  Officials now expect classes to resume Wednesday.  As of Tuesday, Wisconsin Emergency Management reports very few emergencies due to the cold.  There have been scattered reports of power outages, frozen house pipes, and broken water mains.  Spokesman Tod Pritchard said quote, "So far, so good."  Some of Milwaukee's finest restaurants are closed today due to the cold.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says diners should call ahead to see what's open.  Arctic air is expected to continue pounding the Badger State through tomorrow -- but forecasters now predict highs just barely above zero for tomorrow in Milwaukee, Madison, and La Crosse.  Earlier forecasts said no place in Wisconsin would be above zero until Wednesday.  A wind chill warning remains in effect statewide until noon tomorrow.  The National Weather Service says a big warm-up is due this weekend.  Milwaukee expects a high of 36 by Saturday, but there's a price -- snow in some areas starting on Friday, with freezing drizzle possible in some parts of southeast Wisconsin into the weekend. ________________________

Over three-dozen flights were canceled yesterday at Wisconsin's largest airport.  Officials at Mitchell International in Milwaukee say the problems are the result of cold-and-snowy weather in other parts of the country -- and not the bitter cold that's gripping Wisconsin today.  Flights to-and-from Boston and Cleveland are among those being scrapped -- as well as to Chicago O'Hare, which was battling with a major snowstorm in addition to the cold.  Mitchell spokeswoman Pat Rowe says the sub-zero temperatures do affect the tuggers that pull the luggage carts to-and-from the aircraft.  The cold sometimes causes those units to break down.  Officials say folks should check with their airlines on the status of their flights.  Mitchell's Web site also has an updated status report on arrivals-and-departures.  You'll find it at MitchellAirport.com 

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