‘Be ready to stop’: How the first snowfall might impact your morning commute

Even a seasoned crossing guard like John Englesby isn’t thrilled about an early snowfall, especially when it brings out drivers who aren’t used yet used to the snow.

“It’s a good job for a retired guy like me, despite drawbacks like weather,” Englseby said. “(Drivers) may forget for several days, or at least certainly the first time, how they should be driving in weather like this.”

Signs are pointing to a mix of rain and snow going into the early morning hours. As officials prepare to keep the roads safe, they ask commuters to do their part as well.

“We watch the weather basically nonstop,” said Bryan Johnson, spokesperson for the City of Madison Streets Division

For the streets division, clearing streets is a well-traveled road.

“This is what we prepare for every year right around Halloween,” Johnson said, adding that pretreatment on roads isn’t possible for this storm because the expected rain would wash it away.

But because of warm temperatures, snow isn’t expected to stick around. In the worst-case scenario, Johnson said drivers are ready to take plow trucks out, and roads should be clear by morning rush hour.

Still, he said drivers can use this storm as a dry run for what’s to come.

“This is a good storm to kind of get your feet wet with winter again, relearn winter driving techniques: driving a little slower, giving yourself a little bit more time to get there,” Johnson said. “Don’t forget four-wheel drive isn’t four-wheel stop, so don’t get overconfident out on the roads. Just be slow, cautious and safe.”

Outside Madison, in Waunakee, school bus drivers are preparing, as well.

“We’re pretty used to the snowfalls,” Lamers Manager Thomas Ludlow said .”We’re not too excited about this one.”

Lamers started preparing for snow around Oct. 1, and equipment is winterized and ready to pick up students.

“I think parents really need to know buses are built like tanks,” Ludlow said. “You don’t realize a bus weighs almost 40,000 pounds, so they go through the snow very easily.”

Still, Ludlow asks drivers to give buses everywhere some extra space. Englesby said that goes for students and crosswalks as well.

“It’s important not to go too fast,” Englesby said. “Be ready to stop.”

A Madison Metro Transit spokesperson said he expects city buses to continue on their usual routes, and riders can track their buses with the bus system’s app.

Johnson said even with some snow, the streets division will continue normal leaf collection.

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