Storm means there's a white Christmas
Lake Country battened down the hatches, closed schools and tried to get off the roads Thursday for the first big snowstorm of the season, but it was back to business as usual Friday morning.
The Waukesha County Sheriff's Department and local police reported little in the way of major accidents, though there were more than two dozen cars in ditches. Students got to enjoy one snow day as local schools closed for the day Thursday, but were back Friday.
Many Lake Country municipal streets were cleared of snow by 10 a.m. Friday.
City of Oconomowoc Public Works Director Mark Frye said Thursday evening that crews were planning 16-hour shifts on Friday to clean up and then would be back out at midnight on Friday so things would be clear for last-minute Christmas shoppers. Heavy winds began to blow things around Friday morning, but local and county roads were reported mostly clear and drivable Friday.
Few traffic problems
"It's just the start of winter in Wisconsin, and I think the little bit of snow we had (Wednesday) reminded drivers of that. They're driving slow and keeping some distance behind other drivers," said City of Delafield Police Chief Scott Taubel.
"It's common sense that if you're going to be driving, just watch the roadway … Take your time. Drive slow," added Village of Hartland Police Chief Rosch said.
Rosch said that temperatures can drop quickly and rain can easily turn into black ice; drive slowly, especially at intersections. The winter parking line is open, and Hartland residents can call (262) 367-0358 Ext. 1400 to learn about restrictions.
"It was insanity," said Kari Fox, grocery store clerk at Piggly Wiggly in Hartland.
Fox explained that business was nonstop at the store all day Wednesday and into Thursday evening. Folks were stocking up on meat, milk, cereal and baking goods.
Pick 'n Save, too, experienced a rush in anticipation of the storm. On Thursday, a grocery clerk in the Oconomowoc Pick 'n Save said she was too busy to answer questions, and hung up on a reporter.
Snow totals, forecast
JJ Wood, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan, said Lake Country area saw 4 to 5 inches of snow in its eastern communities, such as Pewaukee, and up to a foot farther north and west in the Oconomowoc area.
Large snowflakes began cascading down on many parts of Lake Country midafternoon Thursday while it was still raining in Brookfield and Milwaukee.
Heavy snows and high winds created some near whiteout conditions on some area roads late Thursday evening, Wood said.
The winds were expected to continue through most of Friday, with gusts up to 40 mph. Wood added that the wind was expected to subside Friday night.
The Sullivan station measures the snow accumulation several times throughout the day during snow events like Thursday and Friday. When there's a snow-rain mix, Wood said it complicates things a bit.
When there are large snowstorms, Wood and other meteorologists at the Sullivan station are busy measuring accumulation, but also putting together weather alerts and briefs for organizations and handling calls from media.
Looking ahead to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Wood said there is a weak weather system moving through and there was a 20- to 30-percent chance of light snow, but nothing major that would affect holiday travel. He said as far as Christmas Day, it's hard to predict exactly what will happen, but he said there was a chance for snow showers.
Reporters Paige Brunclik, Melissa Graham and Kelly Smith contributed to this story.
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