7:05 p.m.: A reader of Oak Creek Patch shared some wisdom (that is probably too late to follow today). On Oak Creek Patch's Facebook page, she wrote: "That first layer of snow should be shoveled right away otherwise you are in for big heavy load if you wait till the storm is over. I only had 1/8 inch and it was pretty heavy and if it freezes underneath that will make it even worse!"
6:58 p.m.: @MKESkywarn has tweeted: "NWS says record rainfall for Milwaukee today: 2.04 inches (corrected value). Old record was 1.48" set in 1977." NWS is National Weather Service.
6:52 p.m.: From Wauwatosa Patch editor Jim Price: "For the past hour, we've been back to rain/freezing rain in Tosa. Maybe an inch of snow had accumulated but is now turning into half an inch of slush. Radar shows one more snow band coming our way later, but looks moderate. No reported power failures. No reports from fire or police. Salt trucks still making the rounds."
6:33 p.m.: All classes and events were canceled at Port Washington High School today. That includes the holiday choir concert. Thanks to those on Facebook who heeded our call for information; the concert is at 2:05 p.m. Friday.
6:12 p.m.: A few select closures have begun to trickle in for Friday, though no schools yet. St. Francis Borgia Church in Cedarburg is closed, according to FOX 6, but nothing yet in Port Washington or in Milwaukee County. Schools further west have announced closures, including Horicon and Lomira districts in Dodge County.
Madison, on the other hand, has been crushed. School already has been canceled for Friday, and Madison.com has tweeted that 18 inches are possible by the time the storm is done.
5:17 p.m.: Here are a few more snow totals from around southeastern Wisconsin: Hartford, 13.0 inches total today; Cedarburg, 4.2 inches; Fond du Lac, 7.8 inches; Holy Hill in Washington County, 9.7 inches.
5:03 p.m.: We're getting reports from the North Shore from people who have seen lightning in the area as the storm finally hits the area. Roads are slippery, so drive carefully.
5 p.m.: If you were planning to head to downtown Milwaukee tonight to see the holiday lights, don't bother. The Journal Sentinel is reporting that the Downtown Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival's Jingle Bus tours are canceled because of weather conditions.
4:37 p.m.: Our media partners at FOX6 News have just updated the list of closings and there are several activities that are canceled tonight due to the weather. So far, there are no Friday school closings on the list.
4:25 p.m.: The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office is asking drivers to "take a moment to re-evaluate their driving habits."
The sheriff's office has implemented its emergency weather plan, which includes extra squads on the freeway and coordination with the Milwaukee County Highway Division.
Motorists involved in minor property damage-only crashes can report accidents through the sheriff's office website. Drivers have 24 hours from the time of the crash to report it.
4:12 p.m.: What's happening in the Milwaukee area so far is nothing compared to what folks in Dane, Dodge and Jefferson counties have experienced today. Here are the latest snow totals for those areas from the National Weather Services: Middleton, 18.5 inches; Verona, 16 inches; Beaver Dam, 14.5 inches; and Lake Mills, 11.8.
4:08 p.m.: Milwaukee Area Technical College closed at 3 p.m. today in anticipation of inclement weather, including at its Oak Creek campus.
4 p.m.: In Shorewood, the Public Works Department is well prepared for whatever gets dumped on the village tonight and Friday. Over the summer, the DPW purchased a new skid loader and a plow for the front to help with snow removal from sidewalks and crosswalks.
And when it comes to salt, the DPW is not in short supply.
“We used less than we were allotted last year because of the mild winter,” said Paul Wasemiller, assistant DPW director. “Our storage facility is full right now.”
3:52 p.m.: In Wauwatosa, salt trucks were ready and hit the road shortly before freezing precipitation – a mix of rain and snow – began falling at 3 p.m.
"We've monitored it very closely," said Mike Kreiter, superintendent of operations for the Department of Public Works. "We want to lower the freezing temperature of moisture on the pavement, and there's a lot of moisture out there, and there will continue to be as we get into rush hour."
Wauwatosa tries to avoid plowing if possible and before necessary, preferring to melt any snow and keep it from accumulating. Kreiter said this is its third operation of the season – even though the season's first measurable snowfall was just on Tuesday.
"We'll make a conscious decision when to send out the plows, probably when there's 2 inches out there," Kreiter said. "We could possibly get through without plowing, but again, depending on the temperature, we can't leave 3 inches of frozen stuff out there in the parking lanes."
3:30 p.m.: Activities scheduled at the Port Washington-Saukville School District were canceled tonight, including a holiday choir concert in the high school auditorium. A parent told Patch on Facebook that the concert has been rescheduled to 2:05 p.m. Friday.
3:23 p.m.: The snow has finally arrived in Milwaukee County, and Today's TMJ4 forecaster Brian Gotter says that it's possible for a snowburst to fall on the Milwaukee area. What's a snowburst? How about 2 to 5 inches of snow in an hour?
3:07 p.m.: We're starting to get word of some cancellations of atheltic events tonight. Nicolet High School has postponed its only scheduled athletic event tonight, a home wrestling match against Homestead. And the Greendale varsity wrestling match at Whitnall High School also has been canceled.
2:49 p.m.: From a press release from the BloodCenter of Wisconsin: Thursday’s winter storm has caused the cancellation of several blood drives in the area in which BloodCenter of Wisconsin serves patients in need – and has caused the closing of our West Bend donor center.
Because of the storm, we anticipate an overall shortfall of more than 1,000 units of blood over the next two days in the areas we serve. Donors are being asked to help ensure there’s an adequate blood supply in order to serve all of our hospitals.
BloodCenter asks that those who are able to safely keep their scheduled appointments please do so. If you don’t have an appointment, we ask that you take time to schedule an appointment for Saturday, Sunday or Monday. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-BE-A-HERO or visit www.bcw.edu/snow.
Extended West Bend donor center hours
In order to ensure we can meet the needs of patients, BloodCenter has extended its donor center hours at several locations this Saturday, Dec. 22. BloodCenter staff will be on hand until 3:00 p.m. at the West Bend donor center, 130 Valley Avenue. Because platelets are critically important, our West Bend location will be open BY APPOINTMENT this Sunday, December 23, for platelet donors.
2:05 p.m.: Whitefish Bay Middle School was without power today for approximately two hours this morning. Principal Amy Levek said the students and staff "exhibited a high degree of flexibility, adjusting their plans so that learning could continue."
1:45 p.m.: The state Department of Transportation has just issued an advisory urging motorists to cancel or delay travel plans today and Friday because of anticipated treacherous road conditions that "could have life-threatening impacts." Not only is a winter storm that expected to make conditions hazardous, but the high volume of holiday traffic also could create numerous problems on state roads, the DOT says. In the Milwaukee area, the current rain will begin to freeze and change to snow this afternoon, which will create very hazardous driving conditions during the afternoon rush hour, according to the DOT.
1:29 p.m: Garbage and recycling pickup in Saukville on Thursday has been cancelled due to the weather conditions, said Judy Klumb, of Port Washington's Department of Public Works. Saukville's garbage will instead be picked up on Friday, and Port Washington residents who normally have pickup on Friday will be serviced on Saturday. These changes, of course, are pending any further bad weather on Friday, Klumb said.
1:22 p.m.: Port Washington Street Commissioner Dave Ewig said everything is pretty routine in the city as staff wait for the rain to turn to snow. The plows had already been out yesterday, he said.
1 p.m.: CBS 58 just Tweeted that had this been all snow in Milwaukee, the forecast would have been for 18 to 24 inches.
12:35 p.m.: Oak Creek Street Superintendent Mike Lampe said he is closely watching weather reports and expects to call in his workers in the early evening hours to begin salting streets.
Rain poured down in Oak Creek throughout the morning. If temperatures drop and that water turns to ice, Lampe said workers would get called in earlier, which might make things a little more difficult if trucks are on the roads during rush hour.
Lampe expects a snowfall of about three to six inches in southern Milwaukee County.
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11:15 a.m.: Whitefish Bay experienced a power outage for about 90 minutes this morning, affecting almost 1,500 customers, due to "tree contact," according to the village's Facebook page. Power was restored about 9:30 a.m.
In Greenfield, Patch Editor David Cotey reports that the DPW has trucks loaded with salt and fuel and ready to roll when needed.
The FOX6 radar at 11:10 a.m. shows rain completely covering Milwaukee County and Ozaukee County. Snow does not begin until you reach Oconomowoc to the west or Sheboygan County to the north, essentially.
8:09 a.m.: Thin traffic and the predominance of rain in Milwaukee County has made the morning commute uneventful. Patch will resume more regular updates closer to 3 p.m. as snow blankets more of the area and wind increases.
7:33 a.m.: Heavy rain falling in the northern part of Milwaukee County now. The Milwaukee County Executive's office just tweeted: "No snow day for Milwaukee County Government! We are open today. Safe traveling to all." Milwaukee County buses are running on time as well, according to @RideMCTS on Twitter.
6:53 a.m.: Port Catholic School in Port Washington in closed today, per FOX 6.
6:48 a.m.: We Energies reports spotty power outages in the area, but no significant ones in Patch communities. Farther north in Ozaukee County, in Belgium, there are 31 different outages affecting a little more than 1,000 people.
6:43 a.m.: If you have a reason to fly out of Mitchell International Airport today, departure times for most flights are not impacted so far. But keep up with the airport's online listing of departures, and of course check with your airline on specific flights.
6:13 a.m.: From Twitter @TotalTrafficMKE: "NB Miller Park Way at National: 2 right lanes closed with a spin out."
Meanwhile in Ozaukee County, Sgt. Chris Martin of the sheriff's department told FOX 6 that the county is getting mostly rain in the Port Washington, Grafton and Cedarburg areas; snow starts near Saukville and falls from there north and west.
6:08 a.m.: Over in Milwaukee County, they're getting mostly rain so far but St. Joseph's School in Wauwatosa has decided to cancel classes today, per FOX 6.
6:02 a.m.: Per FOX 6, Port Washington-Saukville schools are closed today.
5:40 a.m: From Twitter @rayloraylo: "Big flash and booming thundersnow in Oregon, WI!"
5:30 a.m.: From Twitter @TotalTrafficMKE: Accident at I-43 SB/I-894 WB and STH 36-LOOMIS RD
5:25 a.m.: Northern Ozaukee School District has canceled classes, according to FOX 6.
5:23 a.m.: If you commute into downtown Milwaukee for work, Patch's traffic map and the highway traffic cameras from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation show no problems at the moment. The commute home promises to be interesting, however, as the second round of snow and heavy winds comes in through the afternoon.
5 a.m.: All public schools are open Thursday in Milwaukee County and Ozaukee County, according to FOX 6. Many areas in Milwaukee County are still experiencing as much rain as snow. In Ozaukee County, there is a minimal amount snow on the ground. Further west and north, snow has fallen steadily and a television station in Madison tweeted it had measured 7 inches of snow at 4:30 a.m.
10:15 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning from 5 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday for Milwaukee County.
The service says while there will be a light snow overnight and early Thursday, the the significant snow is expected to start Thursday afternoon and diminish later on Thursday. Between 4 to 6 inches of snow is expected, with the heaviest snowfall away from the lake.
The service is warning that travel may become difficult during the evening commute Thursday as rain turns into heavy snow. Some power failures also are possible due to heavy, wet snow collecting on trees and power lines.
In Ozaukee County, the winter storm warning is in effect from 2 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday, and the weather service is predicting snow accumulations of 4 to 6 inches along Lake Michigan.
5:40 p.m.: FOX 6's mid-afternoon forecast projects 6.7 inches of snow in Milwaukee and 7.6 in Port Washington.
5:20 p.m: The Port Washington Senior Center has no Wednesday evening activites, according to the FOX 6 closings page.
Also, the Port Washington High School athletic schedule shows that Thursday's basketball games with Germantown have been moved. The boys games, freshman through varsity, at Port Washington will be Friday, Dec. 21. The girls games, hosted by Germantown, will be Jan. 9. It is not clear if those changes were weather-related.
Original article: The first winter storm of the season is expected to arrive in southeastern Wisconsin about 9 p.m. Wednesday night, according to a FOX 6 forecast Tuesday, but the exact impact on Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties is unclear.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch beginning at midnight Wednesday for Milwaukee County, and it's a winter storm warning in Ozaukee County and points north and west. However, it also says southeast Wisconsin will see more warm air that could produce more rain/snow mix and hence less accumulation.