Afternoon commute will be slick, but central Nebraska is in even worse shape

Afternoon commute will be slick, but central Nebraska is in even worse shape
I-80 Overton Exit (NDOT)

Commuters who drove to work Thursday in the rain amid temperatures in the upper 40s likely will be heading home on slick streets, the National Weather Service said.

The area won’t see the snow that has hammered central Nebraska on Thursday, but falling temperatures will freeze the moisture already on the roads, creating hazardous conditions, said David Pearson, a meteorologist in the weather service’s Valley office.

“Put on your winter driving hat,” Pearson said at midday. “It could be a pretty messy commute home.”

The weather service has issued a winter weather advisory for southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa until 6 a.m. Friday.

Central Nebraska is in much worse shape, Pearson said, with heavy snow and very windy conditions.

Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 30 were closed between North Platte and Kearney due to blizzard conditions.

Aaron Mangels, a meteorologist in the weather service’s Hastings office, said at midday that driving conditions were poor even in areas of central Nebraska that so far had not seen much snow because of winds gusting up to 45 mph. Visibility of a quarter-mile has been reported, he said.

Reports of 5-6 inches of snow have come in from Dawson County, which is west of Kearney, Mangels said.

Another band of snow, stretching from far south-central Nebraska to Kearney, formed after the one that moved through Thursday morning, Mangels said. The snow will be hitting Hastings and Grand Island over the next hour, he said about 12:10 p.m.

The snow should move out of central Nebraska by around 3 p.m. and head toward the Columbus area, he said.

Earlier, reports of 3 to 6 inches of snow and winds gusting to 40 mph were reported from about Holdrege north to Ord, said Julia Berg, another meteorologist in the weather service’s Hastings office.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation was advising no travel in areas with snow and high winds because of whiteout conditions. The weather service said a blizzard warning was in effect until noon in Gosper, Phelps, Furnas, Buffalo and Dawson Counties.

The heaviest snow was expected to fall in a swath from northwest Kansas up through central Nebraska into eastern South Dakota and central Minnesota, said Dave Eastlack, a weather service meteorologist based in Valley. Snowfall amounts are expected to range from 3 inches in south-central Nebraska to 6 to 8 inches in northeast Nebraska​. East-central South Dakota into central Minnesota could get 10 to 12 inches.

For information on Nebraska road conditions, call 511, or to check road conditions nationwide visit www.safetravelusa.com. If you become stranded in Nebraska, you can call *55 for the State Patrol’s Highway Helpline. In an emergency, dial 911.

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» Nebraska road conditions

» Iowa road conditions

» Missouri road conditions

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The Nebraska State Patrol on I-80 near Lexington. The interstate is closed from North Platte to Lexington.

Snow and high winds are creating hazardous travel conditions Thursday in parts of Nebraska.

Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 30 were closed between North Platte and Lexington due to blizzard conditions, the Nebraska Department of Transportation reported just before 9:45 a.m.

Reports of 3 to 6 inches of snow and winds gusting to 40 mph have been reported from about Holdrege north to Ord, said Julia Berg, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Hastings. Berg said after 8:30 a.m. that the system was starting to move out of the area, but it wouldn’t be gone until the evening.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation was advising no travel in areas with snow and high winds because of whiteout conditions. The weather service said a blizzard warning was in effect until noon in Gosper, Phelps, Furnas, Buffalo and Dawson Counties.

Nebraska State Patrol on I-80 near Lexington.

Snow is expected to be heavy at times in central Nebraska. Strong northerly winds gusting from 40 to 55 mph, when combined with the snow, will lead to greatly reduced visibility, the National Weather Service said.

Most of eastern Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri will generally see rain.

The heaviest snow is expected to fall in a swath from northwest Kansas up through central Nebraska into eastern South Dakota and central Minnesota, said David Eastlack, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Valley. Snow amounts are expected to range from 3 inches in south-central Nebraska to 6 to 8 inches in northeast Nebraska​. East-central South Dakota into central Minnesota could get 10 to 12 inches.

A major, troublesome aspect of this storm is its strong winds, which kicked up Wednesday evening and were expected to last into Friday morning. Those winds will cause blowing and drifting snow even after fresh snow stops falling.

“The combination of snow-packed roads, icy conditions and reduced visibility will create hazardous travel conditions across the area,” wrote the North Platte office of the weather service in the warning it issued Wednesday.

Thursday’s forecast for the Omaha region called for rain and temperatures falling from about 48 in the morning to below freezing by evening. Eastlack said the precipitation may change over to snow later in the afternoon, but the system is moving so quickly that by the time the cold air comes into the Omaha area, precipitation chances will be waning.

i-80 Brady Exit Thursday morning. (NDOT)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation plans to have more than 630 snowplows and 1,000 team members available to remove snow across the state.

State Patrol troopers also will be on the road to assist travelers.

For information on Nebraska road conditions, call 511, or to check road conditions nationwide visit www.safetravelusa.com. If you become stranded in Nebraska, you can call *55 for the State Patrol’s Highway Helpline. In an emergency, dial 911.

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