A good chunk of Wisconsin is all but shut down today as a historic storm is forcing many to stay home. Many who attempted to brave the roads last night and this morning dealt were out of luck as responders dealt with the same road conditions. From last night until this morning, Milwaukee police received calls for more than 120 vehicles stranded. An equal number of stuck vehicles were reported in Dane County.
“If people get in their vehicles and get stranded. We could be three, four, five hours to get to them,” said Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds this morning.
Vehicles from the DNR and Wisconsin National Guard were requested in Columbia, Dane, Green, Grant, Iowa, Racine, Rock and Walworth counties to help stranded motorists. These vehicles were not immune to the low visibility and wind drifts that reported as high as ten feet in southeast Wisconsin.
Rock County Sheriff’s Commander Troy Knudson said of their six-to-eight military vehicles, three of those became stuck for a time. Two of the department’s snowmobiles also became stranded at one point.
Governor Scott Walker called a state of emergency Monday for 29 counties which opened up resources from the National Guard including use of their armories as shelters.
Two major interstates have been declared impassible by the DOT, I-94 between Illinois-Wisconsin border to the Milwaukee County border and I-43 between Beloit to Mukwonago.
Closer to the north in Fond du Lac, responders dealt with only a few accidents as of this morning according to Police Captain Jon Gutzmann. However he said Fond du Lac county deal is seeing a greater number of incidents. Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mike Nolan said deputies are riding in county trucks and snowplows to get out to stranded motorists.
Todd Pritchard with the Emergency Operations Center echoed what local and county officials were saying, “stay off the roads.”
All flights at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee have been cancelled until at least 5:00 p.m. Although still open, many flights at Dane County Regional Airport are cancelled.
State government offices are closed along with UW campuses in Madison and Milwaukee and other schools throughout southern Wisconsin. State employees were reportedly told to show up to work but given the option of taking a vacation day. At the capitol, lawmakers are gathering for what appears to be business as usual.
The National Weather Service has cancelled all blizzard warnings in the state.