MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin winters can bring beautiful snowfalls and great opportunities for outdoor recreation. They can also result in dangerously cold temperatures and icy conditions. To help encourage everyone to be prepared for the months ahead, Gov. Tony Evers has declared Nov. 9-13 Winter Awareness Week in Wisconsin.
“While Wisconsin typically experiences most of its winter weather from late November through April, this season got off to an early start with several parts of the state receiving a late-October blast of snow,” said Dr. Darrell L. Williams, Wisconsin Emergency Management administrator. “It’s an important reminder that winter weather can be unpredictable, so you need to be prepared early on for what Mother Nature may throw at us.”
During Winter Awareness Week, ReadyWisconsin encourages everyone to learn about risks common to winter months. Be prepared for snow and icy conditions that could impact travel on roadways, make sure you have emergency kits in your vehicle and at home, and ensure your home and vehicle are prepared for the extreme cold temperatures the state often experiences.
“Take time during Winter Awareness Week to make sure your emergency kits have fresh supplies, schedule a tune-up for your furnace, and winterize your vehicle,” Williams advised. “Don’t wait until dangerous winter weather is in the forecast to get you and your family ready.”
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, face masks, 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 three to six winter storms during the season. Last winter, the city of Bayfield in Bayfield County received the highest one-day snowfall of 25.0 inches on Dec. 1, 2019. Upson in Iron County recorded 143.2 inches of snow last winter, giving it the highest seasonal snowfall total in the state. The coldest temperature recorded in Wisconsin was -39 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 15, 2020 in Mather, located in Jackson County.
Winter driving can be extremely hazardous. Between 2015-2019, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation says an average of 43 people were killed and 4,138 were 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.
“During the winter months, it’s important to check current road conditions before you head out,” Williams said. “Consider cancelling travel plans, if you don’t need to be on the roads. If you can’t avoid driving, make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle, slow down, and make sure someone knows where you’re going and that you have arrived safely.”
You can check travel conditions for most major roadways in the state by using 511 Wisconsin, a state Department of Transportation service updated regularly with the latest traffic and road conditions on major routes throughout the state. 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. You may also find updates through local government websites and social media accounts.