During the 2007-08 winter season, southern Wisconsin experienced record-setting snowfall totals of 70 to 122 inches. While last winter is still relatively fresh on most people's minds, let's take a look at a description of three major winter storms in the late 1800s that affected southern Wisconsin.
We retyped a personal account of the January 15, 1877 winter storm, the February 27, 1881 winter storm, and the March 2-4, 1881 winter storm originally composed by Gary Alan Wiese. You can read his story at this link: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mkx/document/snow/1881blizzard.php
Based on Mr. Wiese's notes, it appears the March 2-4, 1881 winter storm was worse than the February 5-6, 2008 winter storm that dumped 12 to 21 inches of snow on southern Wisconsin. This early Februrary winter storm resulted in a closure of Interstate 39/90 between Madison and Janesville due to hundreds of backed-up vehicles. Mr. Wiese mentioned that Madison was cut off from the world due to 2 to 4 feet of new snow in the March 2-4, 1881 winter storm. We can't officially substantiate the reports of 2 to 4 feet of new snow in that March, 1881 winter storm, but it is plausible.
Mr. Wiese's personal account is found on our annual Winter Awareness Week page: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mkx/?n=winter-wx-awareness