Sixteen inches fell in Ellsworth; only Hayward with more
The National Weather Service says the early May snowstorm in northwest Wisconsin appears to be one for the record books. Eighteen inches of new snow fell east of Hayward over the past two days. Mellen, Ashland, and Ellsworth had around 16 inches. Weather Service official Rusty Kapela says the storm will most likely break one-day, two-day, and three-day records for a total snowfall in Wisconsin in May. Until now, the state's one-day record for the month was 10 inches in Minocqua in 1952 and Ashland in '54. It didn't take much for La Crosse to set a new snow record for yesterday. The city had eight-tenths-of-an-inch, breaking the old mark of four-tenths set in 1935. But the storm had a different surprise for La Crosse - freezing rain which caused heavy icing on trees and other objects during the night. Trempealeau and Clark counties reported slippery highways due freezing rain. More sleet and light snow is predicted this morning along a path from southwest to northeast Wisconsin. Rain is expected elsewhere. Expect a lot of the snow to melt during the weekend, as highs return to the 50-degree range statewide with a chance of rain.
Wisconsin tourism officials are promoting a rare cross-country skiing opportunity for May, after up to 18-inches of snow fell in the northwest part of the state since Wednesday. Most of it was on the ground by mid-morning yesterday, but Mellen in Ashland County had almost eight more inches throughout the day for a total of 16. The State Tourism Department revived its "Snow Condition Report" and said Bayfield County has good cross-country ski conditions for the weekend. The American Birkebeiner, the nation's largest cross-country ski race, says its trail near Hayward is open - and the skiing conditions should be good at least through tomorrow. Wisconsin's general sport fishing season also begins tomorrow. But the D-N-R said nearly all lakes In Ashland, Iron, Sawyer, and Price counties still had a lot of ice - and it delayed the stocking of trout on dozens of lakes. Most electric customers in northwest Wisconsin got their power back by late last night. X-cel Energy said up to 16-thousand Wisconsin customers lost their power. The storm claimed at least one life on the highways. A 45-year-old truck driver from Stacy Minnesota struck another rig early yesterday while both were heading east during the snow on Interstate-94 west of Menomonie. The State Patrol said one of the semis apparently jackknifed. Forecasters expect lingering precipitation in much of the Wisconsin today, and a return to normal temperatures for the weekend - with a lot of the snow turning to water.
The northern half of Wisconsin is under a winter weather advisory until late this morning. The National Weather Service says one-to-three more inches of snow are expected in parts of western and northwest Wisconsin, where up to 18-inches fell the past couple days. Forecasters say freezing rain and sleet will make some of that snow wet-and-crunchy, before a new band of rain showers turn it all into slush over the next day-or-two. Winter weather advisories were called in central Wisconsin for the first time, after freezing moved into the region overnight. The Weather Service says the wintry mix will be replaced by rain showers this afternoon - and a wet-and-milder weekend is on tap for all of Wisconsin. Right now, the state's only flood warnings are along the Rock River at four locations in Jefferson and Rock counties. Minor-to-moderate flooding is forecast. A flood warning was canceled overnight for the Rock River at Jefferson, which dropped below its flood stage.
The new snow is holding up plans to look for iron deposits at the site of the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine in Ashland and Iron counties. D-N-R mining regulator Ann Coakley tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the company was planning to start field work at the site by drilling core samples. She said the work was delayed after the region got up to 16-inches of snow over the past two days. Coakley says it might be another two weeks before Gogebic submits a new application to dig for iron deposit samples. The preliminary field work is among the first steps in seeking state approval to construct and operate the new iron ore mine. The governor and Legislature agreed earlier this year to speed up the approval process. But observers say it could still be a few years before the Gogebic mine could open.
April was much safer on Wisconsin highways than a year ago, as the extended winter appeared to keep more folks at home. According to preliminary figures from the D-O-T, 28 people were killed in crashes on state roads last month - 17 fewer than last April. Officials said it was the fewest traffic deaths for an April since the end of World War Two in the 1940's. For the year as a whole, 134 people were killed on state highways from January-through-April. That's 22 fewer than in 2012 - and it's seven less than the average for the past five years.