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Blizzard warnings for parts of Wisconsin

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UNDATED (WSAU)  Southwest Wisconsin already has a blizzard warning in effect until midnight tonight. And about the southern half of the state will have blizzard warnings start at various times during the day. It means that drivers can expect white-out or near white-out conditions due to the mix of heavy snow and strong winds. Governor Scott Walker called a state-of-emergency yesterday, before the snow began. It allows the National Guard, State Patrol, and Wisconsin Emergency Management to help local authorities where needed.

The Wausau area will see 8- to 12-inches of snow, with heavier amounts to the south and lesser amounts to the north.

Almost six inches of snow fell by 1:15 this morning in Platteville – and forecasters jacked up their predicted snow totals as a paralyzing winter storm began to take hold in Wisconsin. The National Weather Service now says 12-to-18 inches are possible in a corridor that runs from Platteville northeast to Sheboygan County. Madison and Fond du Lac are in that corridor. So is Richland Center, which got almost five inches in six hours by 2:15am. Middleton had thunder-and-lighting to go with their four-plus inches of snow by 1am.

Strong winds hit southern Wisconsin overnight, and they were expected to reach other parts of the state this morning. Kenosha had the biggest gusts by 3 a-m at 36-miles-an-hour. Gusts up to 45 were predicted statewide.

Officials said the westbound lanes of Madison’s Beltline Expressway were closed overnight due to a crash. Wisconsin’s Capital City won’t have its normal traffic today because most state government offices will be closed, and the U-W campuses at Madison and Platteville postponed final exams. Both schools will only be open for essential operations. U-W Platteville officials said it was the first time in two decades that final exams were delayed due to snow.

The governor ordered state office buildings in 22 counties to close, but the State Capitol will remain open. Numerous K-to-12 schools throughout Wisconsin said last night they would shut down for the day. Airports in Madison and Milwaukee urged fliers to check with their airlines – and some carriers waived change-fees for three days. Ice preceded the storm in the Milwaukee area. Wauwatosa had up to an inch of sleet by 1:30 this morning.

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