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SUNDEEP MALLADI/Herald photo

With nearly two feet of sticky and wet snow expected to cake the University of Wisconsin's streets and walkways, crews are working at fever pace to ensure safe conditions for today's classes.

Even with most of the campus buried under the heavy snow, Amy Fisher of UW Communications said students should plan on business as usual.

"As of right now, the campus will be open and classes will be held — it's extremely rare that we would close," Fisher said. "I'd be really surprised if [classes] were cancelled."

According to university policy, department and office heads are advised to be flexible with weather situations.

Fisher added anyone traveling to campus should be careful with the slippery roads in Madison.

"Students and faculty should always use caution when determining to travel to campus," Fisher said. "Based on the fact that [the snow has] been tapering off, it's always the chancellor's call if they will be cancelled. As of now, students should assume classes could be held."

With the inclement weather, UW employees are advised to use their own discretion about safety, but according to UW policy are "required to use accrued holiday, vacation or compensation time to cover their absences."

UW has not cancelled a full day of class due to snow since 1990, when more than 17 inches fell over a 16-hour period.

According to Jonathan Martin, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, the snow was unusual throughout the weekend in both its type and accumulation.

"This is wildly out of the ordinary," Martin said. "We don't get storms like this very often."

The weekend storm is comparable to the 1990 storm, which still holds the record for most snowfall in Madison, according to Martin, with the nearly 18 inches falling from Friday evening to Sunday morning.

With temperatures hovering around 32 degrees, Martin said the snow was an uncharacteristically wet mix when it arrived in the city.

"That's not common around here," Martin said. "Usually that's the type that shows up in New England, with that concrete, mashed potato type of snow."

Because the storm arrived over the weekend, Martin said it allowed businesses and UW to get ahead on snow removal.

"If this would have been on Sunday, we would have woken up to a lot of snow and everything would be cancelled for Monday," Martin said. "But I suspect to be close to dug out by [Monday] for regular operations — it's a great thing when this happens on Sunday."

The irregular weather developed Friday from an upper-level disturbance over California and eventually made its way to Wisconsin Sunday afternoon, Martin said.

According to Martin, the storm system is headed to the Great Lakes and will hit the east coast by today.

"The winter weather is headed east, so it'll be in Detroit [Sunday], and then NYC and Boston Monday," Martin said.

Fisher said students should check the UW website this morning for an official decision about the weather, and also check e-mails from professors for cancellations.