(Update) Weather News: Winter storm hits Wisconsin, one person deadWisconsin weather
-- At least one person has been killed by the massive snow-and-ice storm that’s hitting Wisconsin for a second day
At least one person has been killed by the massive snow-and-ice storm that’s hitting Wisconsin for a second day.
The Vernon County sheriff said 69-year-old Gretchen Whittaker of Viroqua died last night, after her vehicle slid off an icy Highway 27. It crossed the center line and veered into a ditch. The National Weather Service said parts of Vernon County had up to an-inch-of-half of liquid precipitation caused by a mix of rain, snow, and sleet.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning through this afternoon for the northern half of the Badger State. And a winter weather advisory continues for central and east central Wisconsin. The Fox Valley, north central, and northwest areas have the biggest snow totals so far.
Parts of northeast and north central Wisconsin had a foot or more of heavy, wet snow by mid-morning – and it was still coming down. Dozens of schools from Chippewa Falls to Wausau to Appleton are closed after snow and sleet made driving extremely dangerous. Marathon County sheriff’s deputies said five semi-trucks were stuck on the Highway 29 expressway near Abbotsford this morning – and they took calls from over 50 drivers who got stuck in the snow. Tigerton in Shawano County had the most by eight this morning – just over 15-inches. Green Bay had around 11, and Packerland broke a 56-year-old snowfall record for yesterday. Northwest Wisconsin has been hard hit as well. Hayward and Stone Lake both had a foot on the ground as of mid-morning. And it was still snowing in most of the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin. Winter storm watches and warnings remain in effect for that area through this afternoon.
The new rain-and-snow have raised new concerns about flooding – especially in west central and southwest Wisconsin. The National Weather Service has issued a general flood warning today for Buffalo, Trempealeau, and western Jackson counties until nine tomorrow morning. Authorities have reported minor low-land flooding on creeks and rivers in that area, due to both heavy rains and melting snow. The Weather Service said up to two-and-a-quarter inches of rain have fallen along the Mississippi River in southwest Wisconsin. The Baraboo River at Baraboo is above its flood stage today, along with the Kickapoo River at Gays Mills, the Trempealeau River at Dodge, and the Fox River in Kenosha County. Minor flooding is predicted in most locations, but the Weather Service expects moderate flooding at Rock Springs – and at La Crosse when the Mississippi River hits its flood stage.
Forecasters say most rivers in the southwest will reach or exceed their flood stages by the weekend – and crests are generally expected in the first two weeks of April. Forecasters say the crests are expected to be lower than the region’s worst floods in 2001 and 1965. Grant County officials have ordered 80-thousand sand-bags. And in northwest Wisconsin, officials say the Saint Croix River is rising about a foot-a-day – and it could be at its flood stage at Stillwater within a week.
Chelsea in Taylor County reported a foot of snow by one this morning. Eleven-and-a-half inches fell near Green Bay by six a.m. Appleton had seven-and-a-half inches, and much of the northwest had around eight-inches. Rhinelander had almost 10-inches, and observers said roads were nearly impassable. A stretch from Menomonie to Green Bay had rare thunderstorms with their snow last night, and the weather service said the lightning triggered a structure fire near Wausau. Southern Wisconsin had rain and hail.
Forecasters say the north will get more snow today. Central areas will get snow mixed with sleet and freezing drizzle. The south could get either rain or snow until the storm clears out this afternoon. And just like winter, it’s supposed to get colder tonight. The mercury could drop into the single digits above zero in the north. Daytime will be in the 20’s-and-30’s statewide at least through Sunday, with only a chance of light snow on Friday.
The NBC TV station for western Wisconsin remains off the air, after its two-thousand-foot transmitting tower was knocked down last night. WEAU in Eau Claire said its tower near Fairchild fell in three directions – and only about 25-feet of it remains standing. It was windy-and-icy at the time, but the station says the tower has survived Wisconsin’s most brutal weather since 1966 – and officials are not sure how-or-why it fell.
Stacy Tanner of the Fairchild Fire Department said nobody was hurt. And the only damage was to the tower, a building that powers it, and trees that were hit by falling cables. Part of the tower landed across Eau Claire County Trunk “H,” and it’s expected to be cleared today. WEAU said there was a concern because a gas tank was leaking, and live power lines were down. But everything was shut off without incident. The tower fell about 90 minutes before WEAU’s 10 o’clock newscast last night. It was shown on its Web site. The region’s most powerful country music station, WAXX FM, was also on that tower.
Parts of north central Wisconsin got up to a foot of snow last night – while a stretch from the Eau Claire area to Wausau to Green Bay had rare “thunder-snow.” According to the National Weather Service, the Wausau area had four-and-a-half inches of snow plus lightning strong enough to start a structure fire. Chelsea in Taylor County had the most snow as of one this morning – 12 inches. Briarton in Outagamie County had snow drifts from its seven-inches. Tigerton in Shawano County had eight-and-a-half inches of thunder-snow, mixed with sleet. Much of Wisconsin’s mid-section also had a snow-sleet mix. In the south, Janesville received half-inch hail for up to 10 straight minutes. The far north did not get as much snow as expected – only up to two-and-a-half inches in the Ashland-and-Bayfield region. But it seemed like a blizzard in some areas. Duluth had winds up to 56-miles-an-hour. The storm is supposed to continue today. The Weather Service said the wintry mix in the north should change to all snow if it hasn’t already. The south is expected to get more rain and thunderstorms. It’s all supposed to diminish later today, with cool but dry weather to follow at least into the weekend.