Everything but the kitchen sink will be thrown at Madison in the storm heading this way, including snow, rain and thunder.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service calls for snow to start falling on the capital city mainly after 9 p.m., becoming heavier as the night progresses and the wind picks up.

By morning, the Madison area could have 4 to 6 inches of heavy, wet snow, and winds could be gusting up to 30 miles an hour.

Temperatures hovering around freezing could change some of the snow to rain Thursday morning, but the precipitation should change back to all snow by the afternoon, with thunder thrown in to the mix.

Blizzard conditions will be prevalent with winds up to 40 mph blowing out of the northwest. New snow of 4 to 7 inches is possible during the day on Thursday.

On Thursday night, falling snow will be augmented by widespread blowing snow before midnight, then just blowing snow after midnight as the storm starts to move out. Winds could still hit 40 mph in the night hours.

All told, accumulation of up to 14 inches of snow is possible in Madison.

“Travel will become difficult to impossible,” the Weather Service warned. “This will be a crippling and life-threatening winter storm. prepare to take all necessary precautions.”

The powerful storm, dubbed Winter Storm Draco by the Weather Channel, is expected to take shape over the panhandle of Texas on Wednesday and move northeast into the Great Lakes region on Thursday on a track that will deliver a “paralyzing” snowstorm to the area.

While the Weather Service said there still is some uncertainty about where the heaviest snow band will set up, it said the most likely area will be centered within a county or so of a line from Darlington to Madison, Beaver Dam and Fond du Lac.

The heaviest snow is likely from after midnight into the day on Thursday, diminishing from west to east in the evening. Thundersnow and rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour are possible.

Winds should blow out of the northeast at 10 to 20 mph Wednesday night, then turn out of the northwest at 20 to 30 mph on Thursday, with gusts of 35 to 45 mph.

“The primary uncertainty with blizzard conditions Thursday afternoon and evening is near freezing temperatures and how wet the snow is,” the Weather Service said. “A wet snow would reduce the threat for blizzard conditions, while a drier and fluffy snow would increase the threat for whiteout conditions.”

The Weather Service forecasts a high near 35 for Madison on Wednesday, an overnight low around 31, a high Thursday near 34, then falling temperatures down to a low Thursday night around 16, with wind chill values between zero and 10.

Far southeast Wisconsin isn't part of the warnings because that area will see too much warm air wrap in around the intense low, bringing rain and a blend of rain and snow before it transitions to all snow Thursday afternoon, keeping snow totals down for that area.

27 Storm Track meteorologist Brian Olson forecast 13 to 16 inches of snow for the Madison area, also with strong winds creating near-blizzard to blizzard conditions. He expects 10 to 13 inches in southern Dane County, and 5 to 10 inches in Rock and Walworth counties.

The Madison area got a prelude on Tuesday with 1.4 inches of snow recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport, while other readings in Madison and McFarland recorded only 0.5 and 0.8 inches, respectively.

The snow did little to disrupt normal business in Madison.

“It sounds like the roads have been a little slick with maybe a few more accidents than normal, but nothing egregious,” said police Sgt. Jason Ostrenga.

But Ostrenga expects things to change starting Wednesday night.

“My advice is from (Wednesday) around 5 p.m., plan on not leaving where you’re at until later Thursday,” he said.

Skies will clear on Friday, but northwest winds still are expected at 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. The high Friday should be near 24.

Winds will die down for the weekend with sunny skies before more clouds move in Sunday night through Christmas. There’s a 20 percent chance of snow on Christmas Eve night and a 30 percent chance on Christmas Day.

Highs Saturday through Tuesday are expected near 27, 26, 29 and 29, and lows Friday night through Monday night should be around 8, 10, 15, and 19.

Olson forecasts highs Wednesday through next Wednesday near 36, 32, 24, 28, 27, 28, 27 and 22, and overnight lows around 29, 15, 8, 13, 15, 21, 13 and 8.

Tuesday’s high of 31 in Madison was 2 degrees above normal and 22 degrees below the record high for Dec. 18 of 53 set in 1923 and 2002.

The low on Tuesday was 26, 11 degrees above normal and 46 degrees above the record low for Dec. 18 of 20 below set in 1884.

Officially, 0.1 inches of precipitation fell at the Dane County Regional Airport on Tuesday, boosting Madison’s December and meteorological winter (December through February) precipitation total (rain plus snow converted to liquid) at the normal 1.2 inches, 0.06 inches above normal. For the year, Madison has received 24.96 inches of precipitation, 8.92 inches below normal.

The 1.4 inches of snow on Tuesday boosted Madison’s December and meteorological winter snow total to 5.5 inches, 2.4 inches below normal. For the snow season (since July 1), Madison has received 5.6 inches, 6.4 inches below normal.


Jeff Richgels and Bill Novak of The Capital Times and Jeff Glaze of the Wisconsin State Journal contributed to this report.

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(20) comments

DennyM
DennyM

Still a top story on Jan 22? Are the schools really going to be closed this Thursday? Come on Madison.com folks, get your website news up to date.

DennyM
DennyM

This is breaking news for Jan 14? I think Madison Newspapers should hire some Jr High student to fix their website.

bored
bored

i can't believe Scott Walker is going to let it snow - he'll probably make some comment about it being a white Christmas too

squelch
squelch

The blizzard warning for us ends at 12:00 midnight on Friday. Mayan calendar ends on Friday.
It MUST be the end. (one can always hope)

mic check
mic check

Walker is very good at shoveling, but it won't be snow.

Comment deleted.
mic check
mic check

Only an idiot, such as yourself, has a problem with the First amendment to Constitution, which you obviously never read, much less understand.

Rosalie
Rosalie

NOAA weather radio says possibly 2-3 inches accumulation per hour. Says "Do not travel. If you must travel, stay in vehicle if you get stuck".

Recommendation to WI_Expat - go see "Chasing Ice" - in your local theaters now.

I also recommend listening to police radio (RadioReference.com) during the storm to give one a new appreciation of all that our deputies, police,and EMT personnel do for those who do choose to go out in the storm.

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg

Recommendation to @Rosalie;

Watch 'An Inconvenient Truth' by Oscar, Nobel, Grammy winner Fat Albert, which has scared a lot of children.

Based on your informed comment, it continues to do so.

Hopefully, you don't reside in the U.K.where it may not be shown without 9 disclaimers.

The Gotch

Rosalie
Rosalie

You don't believe in global warming? Evolution? Science?

noside
noside

Here's hoping Madison schools make the call early so people aren't scrambling around to cover for the kids at the last minute.

NoDope
NoDope

Solar cycle again folks...... said it in the spring months before anyone was talking about drought.

2009 was a very wet year, and we had 0 days WITH sunspots. 2012 was much warmer and drier than any in dacades(since '88...another solar max year) and in 2012 we have not had one single day WITHOUT a sunspot.

For those about to claim I wear a tin-foil hat because I believe the sun affects the weather here on Earth, consider this... NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration), funded by the federal Government, is paid to name and track all Tropical storms and Hurricanes correct? While NOAA also names and tracks each and every Sunspot.

So why is that? Why would NOAA name and track each and every Sunspot? Because they DO have a effect o the weather here on Earth!..... But its not the end of the world! We made it through the last 23 solar cycles, and we will make it through the 24th as well, no tin-foil hat required.

Shake
Shake

Keep pluckin' that chicken.

NorthernDaneCounty
NorthernDaneCounty

There was drought talk during the winter last year, maybe even as far back as late 2011.

fldpwrman
fldpwrman

yes, snowstorms in Wisconsin, in December, makes the Mayans correct.

DaneCounty
DaneCounty

WI_Expat is ready to argue, even when nobody's around and even if it's only about the weather.

When he's not trolling through these boards he's home in his underwear shouting at the walls.

iconoclast
iconoclast

OMG you deniers are so bizarre. Every winter shrieking about Al Gore when it snows (um it is winter), but silence when it comes to the horrid droughts, record overall temperatures, and general increase in weather intensity that any person with the ability to detect patterns can discern as highly disturbing.

toobad
toobad

Yes, just as bizarre as you mush brained gw cultists

WI_Expat
WI_Expat

OMG!!!

Call Al Gore....must be man made!!!!

Weather happens, get over it!

Solstice
Solstice

Who knew WI_Expat was a credentialed climatologist?! As for the upcoming storm, no one's called it "Snowmageddon" yet... Let me be the first! SNOWMAGEDDON! AIEEE!

Harvey
Harvey

If you would bother to research the Climate Change reports you would find scientists forecast bigger and more frequent storms, more extreme conditions from severe drought to flooding and temperature extremes. I swear Climate Change deniers go into hibernation and don't wake up until a cold spell or winter storm hits and then they claim global warming is not real. That is why I don't debate them just like I don't debate creationists, holocaust deniers, members of the flat earth society or those who claim the moon landing was faked. They just are not worth my time.

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