Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Capitol in Winter

A view of the state capitol taken during Winter Fest, 2 February.

The snow surrounding the Square continues to pile up as more snow is dropped on us a few inches at a time. Madison breathed a huge sigh of relief this past weekend as another blizzard missed us by a mere 50 miles, roughly speaking. Though 10-12 inches of snow was originally forecast, we received only 3.7 inches. Meanwhile, Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells had over nine inches, with closer to ten over by Milwaukee. It seems the storm system arrived ahead of the cold front, and with "warmer" temperatures than anticipated we had rain from about midnight Sunday until almost noon when it finally changed over to snow.

The freezing rain and drizzle made for treacherous driving conditions, and people were urged to stay home unless they absolutely had to go out. having spent the night at a friend's, we had to venture out in it for home. Another friend was dropping me off at my place as it was on her way home -- no sooner had we turned off our friend's street onto a major roadway when we encountered a slushy, icy lake oozing across our path. We barely made it through the several inches of standing water and thankfully encountered no more "excitement" along our way. As storm drains were either buried under mountains of snow or crusted over with frozen debris, many streets around the city were flooded. Crews worked furiously to unclog drains in some of the worst areas, but there is only so much an overstrained staff can do.

In order to keep people off the icy roads, many area businesses (including the malls) were closed, churches and Madison Metro cancelled services, and there were numerous cancellations and delays at the airport. Thankfully, the few motorists on the Beltline were, for the most part, driving much slower than the posted speed limit -- between 30 and 40mph instead of the usual 60-80. I was happy to make it home safe and ensconce myself on the sofa with a book and a pile of movies for the rest of the day.

We awoke to a winter fantasy land, the trees sparkling in their ice-encrusted robes trimmed in white. The snap and crackle of the ice as wind soughs through the trees is an almost eerie sound. With the heavy coating of ice, many also awoke to broken tree limbs and there were some areas temporarily without power. Here, the tree outside our building that leans at a precarious 45-degree angle lost another large limb. We can only wonder how long before the tree itself falls, and how many cars it will take with it. It is so close to the building its roots have damaged the foundation, and people scramble to move their cars whenever a severe storm sweeps through the area. The tree should have been removed years ago, and the fact it hasn't yet toppled is a miracle. I just hope there's no one under it when it does fall!