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Sunday night squall brought 'thundersnow' to Janesville

JANESVILLE

By Monday afternoon, most of the snow that fell Sunday night had melted to slush and some unusual fireworks that lit up the night sky were gone, too.

Mother Nature capped off an otherwise nonwhite Christmas weekend with about an inch of slushy snow that covered the grass. But it was the lightning and thunder that sparked and roared over Janesville between about 10:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. Sunday that was most unusual.

Thundersnow, as meteorologists call it, showed itself during the short-lived snowfall late Sunday in Janesville.

National Weather Service meteorologist J.J. Wood said that the unusual phenomenon of thundersnow—lightning and thunder that occurs during a winter snowfall—was reported Sunday night as a cold-air winter storm that packed ice, snow and rainfall clashed with wet, warmer air rising fast across the southern Wisconsin and parts of northern Illinois and northeastern Iowa.

Those are classic meteorologic conditions that can set the table for a rare, winter showing of thunder and lightning.

“Any real strong systems that have a lot of upward motion and lift where it’s pulling warm, moist air into the upper atmosphere, sometimes with those conditions there is just a little bit of unstable air, and that’s where you can have thunderstorms occur along with snow,” Wood said.

What’s more unusual, Wood indicated, is that for all the boom and flash, not much snow fell here. Janesville recorded less than an inch of snow in most places, Wood said—far less than the 4 inches some residents got north of Madison.

“When you have thundersnow, you’re typically going to get intense snowfall rates along with it of at least one or two inches of snow per hour. In this case, the storm moved through Janesville relatively quickly, so you didn’t get that heavy snowfall along with the thunder,” Wood said.

Wood said that across the U.S., thundersnows happen every year, but they’re rare. The National Weather Service and other meteorological groups normally only record five or six such events across the whole country in a given year.

It is more common in the upper Midwest, where proximity to the Great Lakes impacts snowfall, creating conditions where cold-air winter storm fronts are more likely to clash with warmer, wetter air and create slow-moving snow squalls that can linger for hours and drop heavy snows.

Wood said the lightning and thunder that accompany thundersnow come as warm, moist air rises rapidly and creates electrically charged ice particles that clash with charged particles in an approaching, low-pressure cold front.

A Janesville-area storm chaser who goes by the Twitter handle Wx_Jordan shared a short video of a few flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder in the sky over Janesville as snow fell late Sunday. He posted the video on Twitter under the title “Thundersnow in Janesville.”

ABC News’s chief national meteorologist Ginger Zee shared Wx_Jordan’s thundersnow video on her Twitter feed Monday morning, prompting the weather spotter to respond with a retweet of Zee’s post that reads: “Look, mama. I made it!”

Wood said most thundersnow events are discrete phenomena; they’re generally not a harbinger of any longer-term meteorological trends.

Long-term forecasts call for spells of snow on Tuesday, with a likelihood of maybe 1 or 2 inches of snow accumulating around Janesville early in the day. But Wood said it’s likely that warming throughout the day will melt the little snow that does accumulate.

Conditions do not seem favorable for more lightning and thunder to come with the additional snow. Wood said the next chance of any measurable snow would come later in the week, if not over the weekend, according to long-range forecasts.


Business
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Small Towne Market opens in Sharon; Small Towne Lounge on the way

SHARON

A specialty grocery store, a coffee bar/wine bar and other new attractions are arriving in Sharon thanks to business owners Adam Turnbull, his father Garry Turnbull and Amanda Rose.

The three are using their skills and their passion for small-town life and fresh food to transform historic buildings and spur new offerings in the village.

The trio opened Small Towne Market in July at 201 Baldwin St., in what was an abandoned laundromat. They have also purchased the former Sharon State Bank building at 114 Plain St. to fill it with three new businesses.

With new residents seeking new food and entertainment options and the village being a food desert since 2006 when the grocery store burned down, the village is ripe for new businesses and fresh food.

“We feature locally raised beef and pork as well as seasonal vegetables,” Adam Turnbull said. “Our shelves are stocked with organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, verified and independent, small producers. We strive to bring back the grocery model from long ago when you could get personal service and quality and nutritious food.”

The trio teamed up to start remodeling some of Sharon’s historic buildings. Many in the village still cherish memories of their visits from decades past to the bank or laundromat.

Adam Turnbull, who worked as an independent truck driver, purchased 201 Baldwin St., which was in need of significant repair, in November 2019. Although they got delayed a bit because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the store has been remodeled but retains the vintage feel of a general grocery where customers can congregate.

Amanda said locals are stopping in, as are customers from Beloit; Rockton and Roscoe, Illinois; and as far away as Lake Geneva to enjoy the small-town feel of Sharon shopping and to scout out the specialty items that can’t be found anywhere else.

“It’s a different model here. We try to keep things as seasonal and as local as possible,” she added.

The store offers Keller Farms Berkshire pork, for example, which can be found at the Beloit Farmers Market, and beef from Coon Creek Farms. It has Jack & Co. elderberry syrup out of Pecatonica, Illinois, and Sassy Cow Creamery milk out of Sun Prairie, to name a few. Amanda offers her own line of Hippie Homesteader aromatherapy products.

In the future, the store will offer muffins and pastries. It has already hired three part-time employees.

With the store up and running, the trio is finishing renovations at the bank building. Joyful Plants, which offers houseplants, vintage items and other gifts has already moved in and is open. Rose and the Turnbulls are planning to rent out one space in the bank building and hope to start a coffee bar/wine bar soon.

The Small Towne Lounge will begin as a coffee bar with the feel of a relaxed internet cafe, offering all organic and fair-trade coffees.

They hope to add nighttime hours as a wine bar eventually.

“We have extra space to use as a tabletop game room with shuffleboard, board games and cards. It’s going to be a gathering place for the community to have conversations about local issues,” Adam Turnbull said.

The three said Sharon is attracting some new residents and new businesses. Some of the other new businesses in Sharon include Dietrich Studio and Gallery, 120 Plain St.; Winslow Studio 11, 118 Plain St. which offers painting and woodworking; and Olde Market Studios, which will be opening in 2022.

For more information people can visit smalltowne.life or call 262-736-9201.

The Turnbulls and Rose have also formed a nonprofit called Small Towne Preservations, Inc. to preserve and restore historic buildings, land and preserve small-town life. The organization will help business owners with grant funding and other fundraisers to preserve historic buildings. By securing grants, the group hopes to preserve buildings that might otherwise be lost to high remodeling costs.

“We would like to branch out to help other small towns,” Adam Turnbull said.


Obituaries and death notices for Dec. 28, 2021

Yasuko Andrews

Eileen T. (Lilburn) Beggs

Howard L. Carlson

Marco T. González

Charles Hanauska

Jessica Marie (Maize) Osterberg

David P. Prowitz

Myron P. Seaver

Sheila M. Stirmel

Ellen Tucker


Coronavirus
Airlines cancel flights due to COVID-19-stricken staff

As major U.S. airlines canceled dozens of flights due to staff being sick with COVID-19 and more cases of the contagious omicron variant looming, Rock County reported a positivity rate of 14.99% on Monday in line with state trends.

Airline staff members with COVID-19 have not been able to report to work during the busy holiday travel season. According to FlightAware, which tracks flight cancellations, airlines have canceled roughly 4,000 flights to, from or inside the United States since Friday.

Delta, United, JetBlue and American airlines have all reported staffing problems. United said it canceled 115 flights Monday out of more than 4,000 scheduled because of crews out with the coronavirus, according to The Associated Press.

With the omicron variant in Wisconsin and anticipated to cause a rapid increase in disease activity in the coming weeks, health officials continued to encourage vaccinations.

According to November 2021 Wisconsin Department of Health Services data, people not fully vaccinated were diagnosed with COVID-19 at a rate five times higher than people who were fully vaccinated; hospitalized at a rate 11 times higher; and died from COVID-19 at a rate 12 times higher than people who were fully vaccinated.

DHS reported 722.5 cases; 17.1 hospitalizations; and 2.8 deaths per 100,000 fully vaccinated people in the state, according to data available Dec. 15. Out of 100,000 not fully vaccinated people, for the same time period, DHS reported 3,348.2 cases; 184 hospitalizations; and 35 deaths. The data will be updated again Jan. 15.

In the previous week ending Monday, there were 697 cases of COVID in Rock County, according to the Centers for Disease Control website. The case rate per 100,000 people was 426.68. The positivity rate was 14.99%. The percentage of the population more than 5 years of age which is fully vaccinated was 69.5%. New hospital admissions in Rock County for the past week totaled 44.

As of Monday, the average number of new cases per day in Wisconsin for the past seven days has been 3,375. The seven-day average of deaths per day in the state was 25 and the seven day average state positivity rate was 15%.

As of Dec. 24, there were 58% of the total population of Wisconsin residents that have completed the vaccine series.


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