Groundhogs across southern Wisconsin must be panicking ahead of their Saturday prediction.
Southern Wisconsin plummeted back into winter Wednesday as a storm blanketed the region with snow just a day after a record-setting temperature of 54 degrees.
More than 5 inches of snow accumulated at Dane County Regional Airport by 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The storm ushered in a cold front that includes two days of bitter cold, with the National Weather Service forecasting highs of 10 degrees Thursday and 4 degrees Friday.
Madison’s snowfall total was relatively light compared to other communities to the north and west, with 10 inches of snow reported in Reedsburg and 9 inches reported in Portage.
"It started out as a very wet snow earlier in the day, but as the temperature dropped and dropped, it turned into a lighter, drier snow," said Weather Service hydrologist Brian Hahn.
The snow accumulation was enough to cause 84 southern Wisconsin school districts and private schools to call off classes Wednesday. It also kept many other people indoors.
Chris Eaglin, owner of Christopher Ross Contracting, spent his day preparing tax forms for his business after the snow confined him to doing office work.
"I’ve been trying to get an inspection done on this property in the (Wisconsin) Dells," he said. "I was supposed to go on Tuesday and it rained all day, and now it’s snowing. Now that there’s snow, it will probably be a couple weeks before I can look at this guy’s roof."
But others had to brave the dicey roads and dropping temperatures.
The Dane County 911 Center said it received a large number of calls for cars that slid off the road throughout the day.
Between 9 a.m. and noon, the volume of crashes forced Madison police to respond only to accidents that involved injury or significant traffic blockage.
While no significant injuries were reported from Wednesday crashes, slippery roads caused a semi-tractor trailer to slide off the Beltline near Old Sauk Road. The crash occurred at 3:15 p.m. and was cleared in about 90 minutes, but cleanup efforts partially blocked one lane in each direction, according to Madison Police Lt. Cory Nelson.
Nelson said roads were improving Wednesday night as snowfall tapered off and city plows worked to clear streets.
Streets Superintendent Chris Kelley said most residential streets in Madison would be plowed before midnight Wednesday.
But the task of digging out could take much longer for some.
Jason Timmens was partially into a 3 1/2 hour plowing job at an apartment complex along East Dayton Street around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The 38-year-old contracts through Capitol Lakes Property Services to clear snow from driveways and sidewalks around the county. Timmens had cleared seven properties but had 25 to go.
"I should be out doing those (25) properties until about (midnight) tonight," he said. "When I get done with that I’ve got to re-hit my seven I did earlier. So I might be getting done by about 3 a.m."
Milder air will start sneaking in this weekend, with highs in the 20s on Saturday and Sunday and up to the mid-30s on Monday.
— Bill Novak of madison.com contributed to this report