Season’s first snow impacts roads, ski slopes in southern Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. – The calendar still says fall, but the feel of winter is officially upon us in Madison as the season’s first true snowfall took over Tuesday. For both the City of Madison Streets Division and at Tyrol Basin Ski Resort, their seasons start now.

The city had 32 plows salting the roads at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, focusing on major thoroughfares and roads surrounding schools and hospitals. They didn’t need to plow at all Tuesday but will have crews out until midnight just in case.

RELATED: Streets Division crews to continue keeping roads clear through Tuesday night

“It’s nice, the pavement temperature for this storm has been so warm so a lot of this is melting when it hits the ground, but we want to have the trucks out just in case if it starts snowing heavier than the melting can keep up with, we don’t want a ton of snow and slippery spots out there,” Streets Division spokesperson Bryan Johnson said.

Meanwhile, after days of producing snow before its opening weekend, Tyrol Basin Ski Resort had to turn its snow machines off.

“We got cold, that’s all we need, but yeah, we love to see some natural snow, it gets everyone else excited,” owner and general manager Nathan McGree said.

Snowmaking is dependent on temperature and humidity.

“Wet-bulb is a calculation of ambient temperature with humidity mixed in, so if we have a high humidity and not the lowest temperature, it makes it hard for us to make snow,” McGree says.  “We’ll mix it into our manmade and probably make a better product than Mother Nature is making right now.”

As for city crews, they’ll keep their plows ready until midnight, ready to pivot if the forecasts change. For now, they say drivers’ main concern should be wet roads.

“The roads right now are wet. That’s sort of the best way to describe them, so with wet roads, with cooler temperatures, it wouldn’t be out of line for there to be some slippery spots here and there, so bake that into your commutes,” Johnson said.

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