Wisconsin’s third major winter storm of the 2005-2006 winter season, and southern Wisconsin’s first major winter storm, finally developed and pushed through the state, bringing the area wintry weather in two separate waves. (story continues below)
Here is a detailed graphic illustrating 2-day snowfall across the state of Wisconsin:
The first round came through overnight on Wednesday, February 15, 2006. A cold front that had pushed south through Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon, stalled across central Illinois Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, the main storm began to develop just to the lee of the Colorado Rockies. Warm and moist air was drawn north from the Gulf of Mexico and interacted with colder air north of the front to produce a period of widespread snow Wednesday evening across mainly central and southern Wisconsin. Snowfall totals generally ranged from 2 to 5 inches, with lesser amounts across the extreme southeast corner of the state and slightly higher amounts just under 6 inches across portions of Dane county by early Thursday morning.
The second, more intense round of wintry precipitation came through Thursday, February 16, as the Colorado low pressure system tracked east northeast into extreme northern Indiana and Lower Michigan by late afternoon. A widespread convective area of snow with embedded thunderstorms developed Thursday morning and tracked across most of the southeastern third of Wisconsin, producing snowfall rates of 2 to locally 4 inches per hour, frequent lightning, and wind gusts up to 45 mph. The southeast part of Wisconsin experienced a mix of rain, sleet, snow, and freezing rain. A thunderstorm even produced ¼ inch hail which covered the ground at a location 2 miles north of New Munster, as reported by Kenosha County Dispatch just after 9 am. Another area of snow began to organize a bit further west across western and central Wisconsin during the late morning. This snow would affect the remainder of central and northern Wisconsin throughout the day before rotating back and clipping southern portions of the state during the evening.
The heaviest swath of snow from this system stretched from northeast, through east-central to south-central Wisconsin. Snow amounts within this swath ranged from 7 to 14 inches, with the highest amounts from Sheboygan County southwest into Dane County. Some specific totals include 14.0 inches in Sheboygan (Sheboygan Co.), 13.7 inches in Green Bay (Brown Co.), 13.0 inches in West Bend (Washington Co.), 12.0 inches in Hustisford (Dodge Co.), and 10.1 inches in Madison (Dane Co.). Amounts gradually tapered off to the northwest of this swath to around an inch across northwest Wisconsin, but sharply tapered off to the southeast of the swath. Northern and central Waukesha County had around 8 inches, while southeast Walworth, Racine, and Kenosha counties had an inch or less.
In addition to the heavy snow, strong north to northeast winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 45 mph, caused considerable blowing and drifting snow. Blizzard or near blizzard conditions resulted across east central Wisconsin Thursday afternoon before the system pulled away Thursday evening.