Parts of west-central and north-central Nebraska could see up to 18 inches of snow and winds gusting to 35 mph starting Friday night, the National Weather Service said.
Travel could be very difficult to impossible, the weather service said, with patchy, blowing snow likely to significantly reduce visibility.
Towns that could see the highest snowfall totals include Valentine, Ainsworth, O’Neill and Thedford.
Grand Island, Norfolk and Kearney all declared snow emergencies starting Saturday morning.
In the area around Norfolk, a wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet will change over to snow Saturday morning, the weather service said. The snow, heavy at times, will continue through Saturday night before gradually tapering off Sunday. Accumulations of 6 to 11 inches are expected, with higher amounts closer to the South Dakota border, forecasters said.
Rain will fall in and around Omaha starting Friday evening, with heavier rain falling by midnight, said David Pearson, a meteorologist in the weather service’s Valley office. The rain should transition to snow by Saturday night in the Omaha area, he said.
“Temperatures (around Omaha) really don’t drop below freezing until tomorrow night,” he said Friday afternoon.
At the most, Pearson said, the Omaha area could see 2 to 3 inches of snow. “If we end up with more rain or sleet,” he said, “that will reduce (snow totals) even more.”