A powerful storm system forecast to move across the nation’s midsection next week could foul post-Christmas travel.
“It’s a huge system,” said Becky Kern, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, “and it will basically be like a big bowling ball across the middle of America after Christmas.”
Kern said flexibility will be the key for those planning to travel after Christmas.
“Keep a close eye on the weather” and local news, she said.
The latest forecast calls for the system to hit the nation’s midsection Tuesday evening and to last into Wednesday, Kern said.
The moisture-rich system will be accompanied by sharply falling temperatures. Most of the central part of the country will be affected by one type of weather or another.
To the north of Omaha, travelers headed to the Dakotas and Minnesota could encounter a full-blown winter storm with windy conditions making visibility difficult.
West of Omaha, travelers between here and the Rockies also could encounter winter driving conditions.
And then to the south and east of Omaha, severe weather — thunderstorms and tornadoes — are possible.
“For us, it’s a little bit of a wild card,” she said. “It might just be a lot of rain in eastern Nebraska.”
Rain in the winter poses a flood threat when the ground is frozen. Fortunately, the ground in the area has thawed out with the recent warm weather, Kern said, so it should be able to soak up some of the rain.
The system will be fast-moving, she said.
The latest forecast calls for it to move out of the central U.S. by Thursday. Travel conditions in its wake will depend upon the amount of cleanup left to do, she said.