Major winter storm expected this weekend

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MADISON, Wis. — After a very fast warmup on Thursday that brought near-record warmth to southern Wisconsin, a passing cold front will lead to colder weather on Friday. Accumulating snow is likely from Madison southward for Friday night, and heavy snow and high winds are expected from Saturday afternoon through Saturday night over all of southern Wisconsin.

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Temperatures on Wednesday were below normal for the first time since December 18, 2019. While temperatures were still below 20 degrees early on Thursday morning, a warm front lifted northward into southern Wisconsin bringing a little freezing drizzle ahead of it on Thursday morning. Once the front made it into the state, mild southerly winds pushed temperatures up quickly. By late afternoon, the high temperature in Madison reached 49 degrees, just a few degrees from the record high temperature of 53 set in 2002.

A cold front will move through Wisconsin Thursday night. By morning, temperatures will be just below freezing. Little, if any precipitation is expected, although some patchy fog may form as temperatures cool and wind diminish in intensity.

On Friday, northerly winds will drop high temperatures back into the middle 30s. The cold front will stall in northern Illinois, close enough to Wisconsin to keep skies mostly cloudy and to bring a chance of light rain and snow for areas south of Madison.

The first of two storm systems will affect southern Wisconsin on Friday night. Winds will become breezy with light snow becoming likely across southern Wisconsin. One to three inches of snow accumulation is possible from Friday night into early Saturday morning, with the heaviest totals falling south of Madison toward the Illinois state line, while areas north of Madison may only see light snow or flurries. In addition, there is a threat for some freezing rain near and south of the Illinois state line into northern Illinois, where more significant ice accumulations may occur. The snow and any freezing rain will change to flurries on Saturday morning.

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The second storm system will arrive in southern and eastern Wisconsin beginning later Saturday afternoon. Snow will redevelop and should continue into Saturday night before ending early on Sunday morning. The snow will become heavy at times and will be accompanied by strong winds that could result in considerable blowing and drifting snow. This will result in very low visibilities in the falling and blowing snow and will cause travel to become very difficult. It now appears that three to seven inches of snowfall is likely northwest of Madison, with six inches to twelve inches or more falling near Madison and areas to the east and southeast by early Sunday morning.

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The active weather should continue into next week, with accumulating snow possible on Tuesday and Wednesday. Our next shot of cold air will arrive for the end of next week, with high temperatures falling into the upper teens for Thursday and Friday, and low temperatures near zero possible by early Friday morning. Another weather system brings the possibility of accumulating snow from Friday night into Saturday morning of next weekend.

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Those people planning to travel this weekend through southern and eastern Wisconsin, eastern Iowa, northern Illinois, and much of Michigan should monitor the forecast for any new updates. This could significantly impact those planning to travel to Green Bay for the Packers playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks set for Sunday evening. The snow should be over well before game time, but fans should allow extra travel time. If you are planning on traveling to Green Bay on Saturday night, it is suggested that you leave early on Saturday afternoon, or wait until after the snow has ended Sunday morning.

Stay tuned to News 3 Now newscasts, Channel3000.com on the internet, and the Channel3000 First Alert Weather and Traffic app for further weather updates.

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