Winter storm upends holiday travel for Wisconsinites, prompts ‘energy emergency declaration’

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A winter storm hits Wisconsin, prompting a statewide rethink of travel plans ahead of the holidays.

Gov. Tony Evers declared an energy emergency on Thursday in case freezing temperatures and snow hamper fuel supplies and weather-related power outages leave people out of heat.

“The health, welfare and safety of our neighbors depend on their access to home heating fuel,” Evers said in a statement. We can keep people safe by making it as easy as possible to restore power.”

Temperatures are expected to drop below -10 degrees Celsius in the western region on Thursday, while temperatures in the eastern region will remain near zero. Gusts could reach 50mph on Friday.

Marcia Kronse, a meteorologist at the Milwaukee National Weather Service, said a “strong storm system” is bringing in light to moderate snow, but high winds “blow it away, reducing visibility on the road and causing drifting and hazards.” It can cause migration in all regions,” he said. of Wisconsin. ”

Dane County Regional Airport, among other airports in the state, is already seeing some delays, according to director of marketing and communications Michael Reachers. It ranges from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.

“This time the snowfall wasn’t as bad as we had expected, so that’s a relief,” he said, adding that winds and blizzards “are like a brand new snow event for us.”

“This kind of post-pandemic delay in aviation can have a large knock-on effect,” said Riechers.

The airport handles 2,500 to 2,800 passengers per day, but delays occur during peak travel times. About 3,600 passengers visited the airport on Thursday.

“There is no slack in the system because there is a shortage of pilots nationwide right now. “So if there is one delay he can make up for it. ”

Reachers said ensuring the runway surface and terminal are safe and operational is a primary concern.

“We have to keep the lights on. He said.

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Still, it’s up to the airline to decide whether to fly or not. Reachers advised passengers to check flight status.

Jesse Funk, a spokeswoman for Appleton International Airport, said about 50% of flights were delayed on Thursday.

“As the day goes on, expect more cancellations tomorrow,” Funk said. Some airlines already offer fee waivers.

“We want to be optimistic. We want to say we’re pushing this forward,” Funk said. “All northern airports, including Appleton, are very accustomed to snow. That said, 50 mph gusts can be a problem for planes. I don’t want to fall or jump to arbitrary conclusions.”

Most planes are made of aluminum, which corrodes in salt, so the crew is “constantly plowing,” he said. Funk said the wind would be difficult because planes take off and land into the wind.

Milwaukee-Mitchell International Airport, the state’s largest, saw “minimal delays,” according to director of marketing and public relations Stephanie Staudinger. About 7,500 people are expected to leave the city on Thursday. .

She said the maintenance and snow removal crews “understood scientifically that the weather would drop at this time of the vacation trip.”

“Blizzards are what they’re trying to focus on clearing,” she said, adding that planes can usually operate in moderately cold conditions.

According to Kronse, a Milwaukee meteorologist, up to 6 inches of snow is expected in northern Wisconsin, with winds reaching 30 mph in the southwestern part of the state. Winds of 30 to 45 mph will be blowing across the state tonight.

She said the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is reporting slippery stretches on many roads across the state.

“If you are going on a trip, have a winter weather safety kit in your car and check the road conditions. Check the weather forecast before you leave. And extend your travel time. Speed. Drop it, don’t get too close to people,” Kronse said.

The gust is expected to slow to 25 to 30 mph on Saturday, Kronse said. Not as windy as Friday, but still brisk.

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