Jen O'Leary checks in from the UW's Space Science and Engineering Center with some intriguing data regarding this weekend's big storm, courtesy of the center's Scott Lindstrom.
Lindstrom notes that while there are many occasions in the historical record when at least four inches of snow fell on two consecutive days (an indication that many such storms have spanned several hours on either side of midnight), this weekend's storm is the first time more than four inches of snowfall has been recorded on three consecutive days. And the historical records date back to 1869.
The National Weather Service reports six inches of snowfall for Madison on Friday, 4.4 inches for Saturday and another 4.9 inches on Sunday, for a weekend total of 15.3 inches.
Lindstrom further notes that with 20.5 inches of snow so far this month, this is the fourth snowiest February on record, after 20.9 inches in February 1975, 21.9 inches in February 1989 and a whopping 37 inches in February 1994 -- the single snowiest month in Madison history. And with some meteorologists forecasting another inch or two between now and March 1, third or even second snowiest may yet be within reach.
Of course, blizzards are not all upside. Much as winter-sports enthusiasts might be enjoying the late-season reprieve, the storm has brought hazards and the potential for quite a mess.
The Madison mayor's office reports that the high moisture content of this weekend's heavy snows has slowed snow plowing and removal efforts -- almost doubling the usual time it takes to clear the city's streets. Now, in an effort to improve driving conditions on main roads and bus routes, city officials have been forced to divert about half of the streets crews away from snow removal in favor of salting.
To clear the city's approximate 750 miles of streets and 1,700 total lane-miles, Madison officials are contracting with private snow-removal firms to help city trucks with cleanup. To facilitate those efforts, the snow emergency and alternate-side parking rules have been extended through this evening.
East-side residents and businesses with questions or concerns about conditions on their street may phone 246-4532. The number for west-siders is 266-4681. Problems may also be reported online.
And with midweek weather forecasts showing a possibility for high temperatures in the mid to upper 30s and a chance for rain, the city's Engineering Division is cautioning Madison motorists, pedestrians and residents to be alert to the possibility of flooding along roads and at intersections. To report flooding or plugged inlets, phone engineering at 266-4430 or use the city's online problem-reporting system at the above link.
City officials are also reminding residents to be mindful of neighbors who may need assistance clearing the heavy, wet snow from driveways or sidewalks. To request assistance -- or volunteer to provide assistance -- residents are urged to phone the East Madison/Monona Coalition of the Aging, 223-3100; North/Eastside Senior Coalition, 243-5252; South Madison Coalition of the Elderly, 251-8405; or the West Madison Senior Coalition, 238-7368.