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Region braces for storm's impact
Times photo: Anthony Wahl Gas station business was higher than normal Monday afternoon, as many purchased gasoline for their vehicles and snowblowers in preparation for the heavy winter storm.
It may not seem like it with a huge winter storm bearing down on the region, but this winter, in terms of snowfall, has been pretty mild.

According to Weather Central Operations Manager Patrick Weeden, Monroe had logged about 28.7 inches of snow prior to Monday. Normal for this time of year, he said, is roughly 30 inches. The agency doesn't keep official readings for Green County, however, so that number's an estimate based on totals for Madison and Rockford.

The last time the area experienced a significant snow event this winter was on Jan. 17, when about 6 inches fell, he said. But you have to go back to 2009 to find a storm of a magnitude anything close to what forecasters are now predicting for parts of the Midwest, including most of Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

"This storm would definitely be a major event," said Weeden.

Late Monday, forecasters continued to try to predict the impact of a huge storm moving this way. It's one of those storms that's talked about for days in advance, but difficult to track. But just as anticipated, snow - the first and lighter of two waves of snow - began to fall Monday night, with winds picking up significantly in advance of the main storm.

That's still scheduled to strike here late Tuesday, leaving anywhere from 8 to 10 inches in its wake.

Some forecasters have predicted even larger snowfall amounts for areas generally south and east of Monroe.

And once the snow leaves, winter will deliver another punch in the form of bitter cold - forecasters say the temperature is likely to drop to 9 below zero Wednesday night, with wind chills around 25 below zero after midnight.

Travel is expected to be extremely hazardous, especially Tuesday night and Wednesday, with blowing snow and "white-out" conditions expected.

Authorities, including the Wisconsin State Patrol, are warning motorists to avoid travel if at all possible, especially late Tuesday into Wednesday when blowing and drifting is expected to be most severe.

- Gary Mays