Another Round Of Snow Blankets Wisconsin

Last Month Was Madison's Snowiest October Since 1917

Students cross the street to and from a snowy quad, where the trees still have colorful autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves are on the trees and snow is on the ground outside the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Science Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. Miranda Suarez/WPR

Fall in southern Wisconsin continues to be unusually snowy after Wednesday’s storm.

National Weather Service data show Madison had about an inch and a half of snow as of Wednesday morning. The weather service predicts even more snow for Milwaukee during Wednesday’s evening commute, which could limit visibility and make roads slippery.

Shots of cold air from the poles are turning what might otherwise be rain into snow, said Tim Halbach, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sullivan.

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“We’re about a month ahead of time for when we start seeing any sort of snow like this,” he said.

Usually, southern Wisconsin doesn’t get its first inch of snow until after Thanksgiving, but, so far, it’s seen three measurable snowfalls, said Halbach.

His snowfall measures come from volunteers who place boards of plywood, painted white, in their backyards. These “snowboards” provide a flat, cool surface for snow to accumulate, unlike dark road surfaces, which absorb heat and melt snow, said Halbach.

The weather service declared last month the snowiest October on record for Madison, with 8.1 inches, beating the previous record — set in 1917 — by almost three inches.

Jordan Gerth, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said some parts of the state have already seen 20 percent of their normal annual snowfall, which is unusual when compared to a normal November.

“You might get a few inches of snow, and the temperatures will be getting cooler, but it’s certainly nothing like what we’ve seen the last week of October into the beginning of this month,” Gerth said.

Gerth predicted November will continue to be cold, possibly bringing more snow.

“Of course, who gets that snow is always a bit of a question, as the finer details of the storm systems are not yet known,” he said.

Halbach warns these early snows aren’t necessarily the start of a trend. The important thing is to keep an eye on the forecast, he said.

“People like to say, ‘Well, I’m from Wisconsin, we get snow, it’s not a big deal, just deal with it.’ Well, when we have impactful winter events around here, it’s important to know what’s gonna happen,” he said.

For example, you should know whether a snowfall will make you late to work or get you stuck on the highway.

A winter weather advisory in southern Wisconsin had been put into effect overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, and was canceled around 1 p.m. Wednesday.