MADISON, Wis. — The winter of 2018-19 was one for the record books in Wisconsin, with the state experiencing heavy snowfalls and dangerously cold temperatures brought on by the polar vortex. To help prepare everyone for what to expect in the months ahead, Gov. Tony Evers has declared Nov. 4-8, 2019 Winter Awareness Week in Wisconsin.
“The extreme cold felt across Wisconsin earlier this year is a reminder of just how dangerous winter can be,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general and homeland security advisor. “Take time during Winter Awareness Week to make sure your emergency kits are fully supplied, have your furnace serviced and get your vehicle checked out to make sure its ready for winter road conditions.”
“The time to get ready for winter weather is before temperatures drop and snow is on the ground,” said Dr. Darrell Williams, Wisconsin Emergency Management administrator. “Getting prepared now could help save your life or the life of a neighbor during a winter storm.”
Winter emergency kits should include items such as food, water, a flashlight and batteries, and blankets. In your vehicle, include a snow shovel, extra gloves and hats, and kitty litter or sand to help give your wheels traction on icy roads in case you get stuck.
According to the National Weather Service, Wisconsin experiences an average of 3-6 winter storms during a season. Last winter, the town of Saxon in Iron County received the highest seasonal snowfall total in the state at 208.3 inches of snow. Saxon also reported the highest daily snowfall total at 16.5 inches. The coldest temperature recorded in the state during the 2018-19 winter season was the village of Butternut in Ashland County, which reported a reading of -49 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 1, 2019.
Winter driving can be extremely hazardous. Between 2014-2018, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation says an average of 46 people were killed and almost 4,200 injured each year in crashes on icy or snow-covered roads in the state. On average, there are about 18,000 vehicle crashes in the state each year caused by poor winter driving conditions.
“When bad winter weather is in the forecast, drivers should always check current road conditions before they head out,” Williams urged. “If you don’t need to be on the road during a severe winter storm, then stay home. If that’s not an option, carry an emergency kit in your vehicle, drive slow in treacherous conditions, and let people know where you are going and when you expect to arrive.”
You can check travel conditions for most major roadways in the state by using 511 Wisconsin, which is updated with the latest traffic and road conditions. This information, along with live traffic cameras and traffic alerts, can be accessed through the free 511 Wisconsin mobile app, @511WI on Twitter, or the mobile-friendly site www.511wi.gov.