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Snowfall Thursday draws mixed reaction after mild winter

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Southeastern Wisconsin saw the snowflakes fly Thursday, and many reported slick roads. There were mixed reactions from those around southeastern Wisconsin. Some have been waiting all winter to see the ground blanketed with white, fluffy snow, and others say they could do without it!

Snow was a welcome sight Thursday at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee. Anna Bilda and Ross Rodhe made the trip downtown to enjoy the snow, and the Slice of Ice skating rink. “I’m one of the people who likes the snow, and can’t wait to play in it with my six-year-old daughter,”

Meanwhile, City of Milwaukee salt trucks were busy getting ahead of the snowfall, so for most of the afternoon Thursday, drivers saw wet roads. “I’m excited to see how people drive for the first snow. It’s always an interesting adjustment,” one driver said.

Officials urged drivers to remain vigilant and take their time, whether the roads look wet or white. “I heard someone say the roads may be pretty good, but they’re deceiving, because it might not be sticking, but they’re slippery!” one driver said.

For some east siders Thursday, the winter weather brought another cause for concern: fewer parking spaces and likely, more tickets. “It’s a hassle. It’s not real clear what all the rules are. I live here, I shouldn’t have to worry about where I’m going to park my car, and if it’s going to be there when I come back to it,” one east side resident said.

Though there were some headaches Thursday, overall, Milwaukee residents tell FOX6 Thursday’s snow was long overdue! “It’s kind of crazy that it took so long!” one Milwaukee resident said Thursday.

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To the west, outside of Johnson Creek in Jefferson County, a driver was not hurt when her car slid off the road. "As far as I know, she slid off the road, right into the fire hydrant, and must have dragged it under her car. Took out the transmission. Doesn't look that bad, but underneath, it is pretty bad!" The fire hydrant was hauled away, without any water spilled.

Tow driver Nick Wendt says calls for service in Jefferson County picked up in the late morning hours Thursday, and were steady through the day. "It's really bad. I can't go more than about 25 miles-an-hour without fishtailing," Wendt said.

Outside of the towns, away from the well-plowed roads, those without four wheel drive like Rachel Winkler found it tricky to get around! "It's like, okay, I am just going to go 25 and all these cars behind me can just wait for me to get where I am going, because I don't want to die," Winkler said.

For most drivers, it was the first snow of the season, and it seems every year, drivers in southeastern Wisconsin have to re-learn how to drive safely in winter weather.

Not all were dreading seeing the flakes fall Thursday. The Ritter family has been watching the skies all day, waiting for enough snow to get in their first sledding run of the season.

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In Racine, blowing winds and falling snow made getting around a tough task for some! Some drivers got a crash course in navigating through winter weather Thursday afternoon and evening. Ragena Perez was t-boned outside Horlick High School as she was turning in to drop her brother off for wrestling practice Thursday evening. Now, her car may need to be dropped off at the junk yard! "I didn't even know what was going on. All I did was look over to see if my brother was fine," Perez said. Both were okay, but say the driver who hit them was at the mercy of Mother Nature. "I'm pretty sure he would have had a lot easier of a break if the snow wasn't so packy on the ground," Perez said. Perez says she has insurance, and plans to work with her insurance company to replace the car.

Later, two more cars collided at the same location. Racine County law enforcement officials estimate about a dozen fender-benders.

Anthony Reed came back from Mississippi, and was greeted with shoveling duties. "It's been really deep at times. It's a little bit slick, but not too bad. It's probably going to get rough later on," Reed said.

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In Menomonee Falls Thursday evening, some didn't let the snow or the wind get in the way of their disc golf game! "I don't think it's that bad for us, but other people might think differently," Joe Smith said. With towels at their side to help with gripping the discs, Smith and his friends found fun and frustration in their first game of disc golf in the snow this winter season. Smith says it's all about touch and technique, but despite their very best effort, the wind did seem to get in the way!

Meanwhile, those to the northwest of Milwaukee worked battled blustery conditions as they worked to clear the snow. The wind seemed to push inches of powder back on the sidewalks and streets as soon as they were cleared. "It's windy and pretty slippery out. We have to plow the whole parking lot every two or three inches," one plow driver said.

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As of around 10:00 p.m. Thursday night, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department reported since the snow started around 9:00 a.m., there were 23 property damage only accidents, with no injuries, and 45 cars were disbled. They say a bulk of those accidents happened after 3:00 p.m. Thursday.

The Racine County Sheriff's Department reports 15 to 16 accidents, not including totals from surrounding areas, such as Sturtevant.

The Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department says since 2:00 p.m. Thursday, there were five cars in the ditch, and 12 property damage with no injury accidents.

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Falling snow Thursday along with dropping temperatures led Repairers of the Breach to move to round-the-clock operation to serve as a warm, safe haven for the homeless. The daytime resource center for the homeless and sheltered homeless will be open round-the-clock whenever wind chill temperatures drop below ten degrees. This is the fifth such occasion so far this winter that the shelter will be open round-the-clock. Officials at the shelter say financial contributions, as well as supplies such as warm clothing, blankets and overcoats are needed and can be donated at the shelter on W. Vliet Street.

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With snow falling and accumulating, Milwaukee County Parks will open sledding hills and cross country ski trails for some fun winter outdoor activities! The sledding hill and warming clubhouse at Whitnall Park on S. 92nd Street will be open Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and will also be open through the weekend.

Cross country ski trails at Whitnall and Brown Deer Parks will open with trail grooming beginning Friday. Cross country ski rental at Whitnall Park is $25 per day, and $30 for 24 hours.

Additionally, lighted sledding hills for day or nighttime fun include:

Currie Park on N. Mayfair Road (lit until 9:00 p.m.)
Whitnall Park on S. 92nd Street (lit until 10:00 p.m.)
Humboldt Park on S. HOwell Ave. (lit until 8:00 p.m.)
Pulaski on S. 116th St. (lit until 10:00 p.m.)

Daytime sledding hills include:

McCarty Park (W. Cleveland Ave.)
Columbus Park (W. Courtland Ave.)
Greene Park (S. Lipton Ave.)
Hales Corners Park (S. New Berlin Rd.)
LaFollette Park (W. Washington St.)
Wilson Recreation (S. 20th St.)
McGovern (S. 51st St.)

Of course, the Milwaukee County Parks Department also offers ice skating in downtown Milwaukee at Slice of Ice at Red Arrow Park on N. Water Street. Skate rentals are $8 for adult and $7 for ages 17 and under. The skating rink will be open Friday and Saturday from 11 to 11, and Sunday from 11 to 6.

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