Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: A “Hurricane of Snow”–State of Emergency Declared for Southern Wisconsin

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This is a day where no one is going any-freaking-where. Governor Walker has declared a state of emergency for 29 counties in Wisconsin, which includes Dane County, from the blizzard of 2011. Do not go anywhere unless you absolutely, positively have to. All roads are difficult, if not impassable. Many motorists have become stranded and few have been rescued because emergency crews are overextended.  Even 4×4 vehicles have gotten stuck. One impatient guy on Highway 23 left his car and was hospitalized trying to walk to Dodgeville. Exhaustion would have been the least of his problems. How about frostbite?

You can do without cigarettes for one day.

Last night, I was in this mess.  In five years in Mad City, I have never experienced anything like it.

A co-worker drove me home, but her windshield kept icing up.  The few people on the road were driving up to 25 mph in the snow.  There were still students and other basketball fans walking about, returning home or looking for an open bar; apparently the Badgers had won over top-ranked Purdue.  My co-worker kept asking the equivalent of are we there yet? But we weren’t.  The snowfall and the wind combined to lessen visibility.

She couldn’t even drive up to the front door.  There was a big snowdrift there on the street, and her car would have gotten stuck.  So I got out to walk across, if you could call it walking.   The car door seemed to fling itself open from the wind.  I gave her a couple of tips to get out of the Capitol Square, but I was barely able to shut the door.  The car seemed to plow out of the snow, but just barely. She had a little farther to go, but I wasn’t envying her journey.

I had wrapped my neck and mouth was a muffler, which makes me look like some kind of bank robber or terrorist.  I pushed on, while my glasses clouded up and my exposed face stung.  My feet sank into the snow, sometimes into drifts that went past my ankles.  But before I could get to the side door of the building, I was accosted by–of all people–a man/woman on the street reporter from LaCrosse, from radio station WTDY.  Apparently, this guy was at a loss to find people to comment right there, about what was happening.  Well, hell.  Can you blame them?  So I introduced myself as a 1972 broadcast journalism graduate, and I talked to him for perhaps a minute.  So if you hear someone talking about “a hurricane of snow”  around LaCrosse way and perhaps elsewhere, that was your proprietor, this black sister.

Because it is a hurricane of snow, and it hasn’t stopped yet.  Oh, it’s tapering off. That wind was trying to get into my room all night, and it will continue long after the snow has stopped falling.  On top of it, the temperature will start plunging this p.m.

So what is up now?

  • Forget using Madison Metro to go to work. Service will resume tomorrow.
  • All non-essential Dane County services have been curtailed until tomorrow. That goes for Dane County and state employees as well.  This also includes all health and social services. Per the governor:  State employees in those (29) counties should report to work, but state agencies are directed to allow employees to be excused from work if they choose to take appropriate leave.Pursuant to Executive Order 12, employees whose job duties include the provision or support of an emergency response, public health, or public safety function may only be released at the discretion of the appointing authority.
  • UW Health Center has closed down is open. UW Health Clinics are closed.
  • I-94 in Kenosha and Racine Counties; 1-43 in Walworth County are impassible. In Rock County, I-90-39 is said to be the only open roadway in the county, and traffic is moving at 10-15 mph. with 4-7 foot drifts. Check with 511 WI for further details. Apparently, the road to Illinois is now closed, too.
  • Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee is closed.  Dane County Regional Airport in Madison might as well be closed, as flights are canceled. I’m sure a lot of Packer fans are pissed if they picked the wrong day to embark for the Super Bowl.
  • All post offices are open, but mail delivery will be delayed.  Carriers will be starting off on routes this afternoon.
  • Yes, all public schools in both Madison and Milwaukee are closed. So is UW-Madison, MATC and its satellite campuses, Edgewood College, etc. Call your college if you are not sure when they will resume courses. No doubt, they will have a recorded message.
  • All activities at Meriter Hospital, including their neonatal classes, women and heart disease classes, are canceled.
  • Don’t get into trouble trying to dig out. So many people have been stricken with heart-related symptoms from overexerting themselves in this snow and wind.  Your heart rate doubles when you shovel snow, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a heart ailment.  If you have neighbors, pool your resources and get someone who will clear your driveway and walkways later.   Especially older folks: don’t get hard-headed, thinking that you can handle this.  Let it ride for a couple of days, and then get some help.
  • Check your furnace vents, and if blocked, clear them; there have been at least five CO2 poisonings reported.  MG&E also says to clear the area around the gas meter and regulator. Snow build up on the bottom of the regulator, (located next to the meter), can shut off gas to the furnace.  And you will be COLD.
  • Seventy-five members of the National Guard have been dispersed across the stricken area to help local and state authorities with the emergency.

For further information regarding closings, check here.

Channel 3000’s live blog, “Cover It Live,” is here.

Keep warm. Keep safe.

~ by blksista on February 2, 2011.

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