Gov. Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in Wisconsin because of the pending blizzard.
The executive order is now in effect and will continue through Thursday.
"I issued this executive order to make sure Wisconsin is prepared for whatever this winter storm may bring," Walker said.
"Mobilizing our state agency resources during this storm will ensure we leave nothing to chance when it comes to protecting the citizens of Wisconsin," Walker said.
Emergency operation centers will start up at 8 p.m. Wednesday, when the level of emergency switches from Level 4 (normal) to Level 3 (activated).
The pending storm has forced a number of cancellations and closings, including graduation ceremonies at Madison Area Technical College, which had been scheduled for Thursday night.
MATC has also closed its campuses on Thursday "out of concern for the safety of our students, faculty and staff," according to a message on the school's website at madisoncollege.edu.
UW-Madison officials said the university will be open only for essential operations Thursday. In-person final exam meetings were canceled.
Six area school districts, including Madison, and other individual schools are already shutting down for the storm.
Verona, Middleton-Cross Plains, Mineral Point, Pecatonica and River Valley schools will be closed Thursday, as well as Madison's Country Day School, Abundant Life, High Point Christian, St. Ambrose Academy and Edgewood Grade School. (Edgewood will also be closed on Friday.)
Public Health Madison and Dane County announced its clinics will be closed on Thursday. WIC clients can call 267-1111 during normal business hours for more information.
Snow emergencies have been declared in four communities in south central Wisconsin, but no snow emergency has been declared as of yet in Madison.
Sun Prairie, McFarland, Portage and Fort Atkinson have declared snow emergencies, set to take effect at 11 p.m. in McFarland, midnight in Sun Prairie and Fort Atkinson and at 2 a.m. Thursday in Portage.
The Sun Prairie Public Works Department said the snow emergency will be in effect until 7 a.m Friday. No parking will be allowed on any city street until the snow emergency is canceled. Violators face a $50 fine and having their vehicles towed.
The McFarland snow emergency will go from 11 p.m. Wednesday to 11 p.m. Friday. No vehicles will be allowed to park on village streets.
In Fort Atkinson, the snow emergency will remain in effect until 6 p.m. Friday.
In Portage, the snow emergency will be in effect for 48 hours, which would be until 2 a.m. Saturday, or until it's canceled by the streets superintendent.
Parking will be prohibited on signed snow routes in Portage beginning at 2 a.m. Thursday and then on all other streets except for the central business district, beginning at 4 a.m.
In the Portage central business district, parking on city streets will be prohibited from 10 p.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday.
In Madison, a snow emergency would be declared prior to 9 p.m. Wednesday if one is going to be in effect for Thursday and Friday.
Parking, snow removal and other winter rules in Madison can be found online at www.cityofmadison.com/residents/winter.
Madison's recycling coordinator George Dreckmann said refuse and recycling collection will be done on Thursday, but large item collection will not.
"Our crews are used to collecting material in winter storms, so we are hopeful we can complete both refuse and recycling collection," Dreckmann said.
Residents should not put carts in the street because they could be damaged by snowplows.