Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County State of Emergency Continues as Historic Blizzard Makes Roads Impassible, Results in Dozens of Power Outages

December 20, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive

Heavy Snows, Drifting Affecting Many East-West Roads and Rural Highways in Dane County; Power Outages, Downed Lines and Trees Reported as Effects of Dangerous Blizzard Are Felt Across Dane County


Dane County remains under a state of emergency as the effects of today’s blizzard continue to lead to dangerous and deteriorating conditions on many roads and highways, County Executive Joe Parisi said.  He also said since early afternoon, dozens of power outages have been reported.


Heavy snow has fallen throughout the day and didn't change to rain as initially forecast.  Those snows combined with high winds have left many east-west roads difficult to drive on and in some cases impassable due to drifting. 


While the snow is forecast to diminish through the evening, road conditions are expected to worsen through the overnight with forecasted wind gusts up to 50 and 60 miles per hour.  Strong winds are forecast to continue through the day Friday resulting in continued drifting and difficult travel.


The state of emergency declaration allows the county to seek federal disaster reimbursement for its recovery costs related to the blizzard.


Due to the prolonged and dangerous nature of this storm, and the recommendation of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the Dane County Highway Commissioner, Dane County will close non-essential services and the Dane County Courthouse on Friday, December 21st.


Normal county operations will resume after the Christmas Eve and Christmas holidays on Wednesday, December 26th.


As of 3pm today, many power outages are being reported in the MG&E and Alliant energy utility areas.  Utility crews have informed Dane County Emergency management that they will work through the night to attempt to restore power to those affected as quickly as possible.


Due to the weight of the snow and expected stronger winds there is a risk of additional power outages affecting the county.  Numerous Dane County first response agencies have spent the afternoon responding to reports of downed power lines.  Those who lose power are encouraged to immediately contact their utility provider.


People are encouraged to stay off the roads and refrain from traveling at this time.


Public safety services performed by the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, the Dane County Highway Department, and the 911 center will continue to operate as normal through the blizzard. Sheriff’s deputies will continue patrols, snow-plowing crews will continue efforts to clear highways and roads, and the 911 center remains fully-staffed.  The 911 Center has experienced a nearly 60% increase in call volume today due to the storm.


The Dane County Executive’s Office along with the Departments of Emergency Management, Public Works and Highway, and the Sheriff’s Office are monitoring the blizzard and continuing to coordinate the county's response through the Emergency Operations Center.  It will remain staff through the night and into tomorrow.