On Tuesday January 4, a low pressure center pushed into the southwestern United States. Meanwhile, a frontal boundary heading south from the upper midwest became stationary across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. As the low moved into the southern Plains during the early afternoon, it pulled copious amounts of Gulf and the eastern Pacific moisture northward. This moisture was lifted as it crossed the front, resulting in precipitation for southern Iowa into northern Illinois. As the precipitation pushed north into Wisconsin, it encountered dry air at the surface and most of it evaporated before reaching the ground. Snow totals by Wednesday morning for this first round of precipitation ranged from 1 to 3 inches south of I-94, with the most along the Illinois border, and little if any north of I-94.
A lull in the precipitation occurred early Wednesday before another low pressure center pulled out of the southwestern United States and into the mid Mississippi River Valley. Once again, moisture was drawn over a stationary front to the south, generating light snow. A vigorous upper level low pressure system pushed into Kansas and eastern Nebraska and tracked northeast toward the Great Lakes. This caused the surface low to deepen as it headed into the Ohio Valley. Widespread moderate to heavy snow then developed across northern Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska by Wednesday evening. The snow quickly spread north and east into southern Wisconsin overnight and continued into Thursday morning. Snow totals ranged from 2 to 4 inches in central Wisconsin to 8 to 10 inches across portions of southern Wisconsin.
In addition to the heavy snow, sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph, with gusts to 30 mph, created considerable blowing and drifting snow Wednesday night through midday Thursday.
Final storm totals ranged from 2 to 4 inches across central Wisconsin, to 8 to 12 inches across southern Wisconsin, with some isolated totals of 12 to 14 inches close to the Illinois border. The highest total of 13.6 inches was reported at the Kenosha Waste Water Treatment Plant.