Blowing, drifting snow make travel dangerous after storm leaves behind 6 to 10 inches

Blowing, drifting snow make travel dangerous after storm leaves behind 6 to 10 inches

- in Travel
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A winter weather advisory will expire at noon after a blizzard left 6 to 10 inches of snow across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

The National Weather Service office in Valley said Sunday that residents can expect blowing and drifting snow in open areas. Winds gusting at 35 to 45 mph with some local gusts over 50 mph make travel dangerous. 

“With this wind, blowing snow will be the biggest problem,” said meteorologist Paul Fajman of the weather service. 

The temperature for Sunday is expected to top out at 17 degrees with a low of 5 below overnight and high of 11 degrees forecast for Monday.  Wind chills Monday and Tuesday mornings will dip to 10 to 20 below zero.

“It really looks like we’re going to be stuck in this cold pattern this week,” said Courtney Travis, a meteorologist with AccuWeather. “It will be a struggle to get to 20 (degrees) by midweek. We should see the upper 20s by Thursday and possibly 30 by Friday.”

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Interstate 80 in Nebraska remained closed in both directions from Gretna to Lexington as of 9 a.m., according to the Nebraska State Patrol in Lincoln. I-80 closed, authorities said, because of weather conditions and multiple collisions, including several large pileups.

In Omaha, police resumed responding to all traffic accidents as of 5 a.m. City snowplows and private contractors were clearing snow from the main arteries and secondary streets Sunday morning. 

Dozens of flights at Eppley Airfield were canceled Saturday night because of the weather. Flights in and out of Eppley Airfield resumed Sunday morning with only two Chicago-bound flights canceled. 

Plows were moving snow to the middle of major streets, creating large piles to be cleared away later. Side streets are treacherous with ice beneath the snow stalling vehicles on hills.

Carrie Murphy, a  spokeswoman for Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, said that “drifting snow continues to be a challenge this morning as we continue to clear streets for safe travel. Our city crews will remain on the major and secondary streets throughout the day, plowing, treating and pushing drifts out of the way.”

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Private contractors started at midnight and are making good progress, the city said. As of 8:45 a.m., roughly one-third of their routes had been completed.

“With 8 plus inches of snow in many parts of the city, contractors will have a full 24 hours to do this work,” Murphy said. “We ask for your patience as these folks work hard to get everything open again. City trucks will likely follow the contract operation with salt late tonight.”

On major streets, including Dodge to Happy Hollow, Maple Street in Benson and downtown locations, where trucks have plowed to the middle of the street, the city expects to start removing that snow Tuesday morning at the earliest, Murphy said. 

“Overall, the cleanup is going as expected after a blizzard, or even a little better than expected,” Murphy said. “Please stay home if you can, and if you must go out, use extreme caution.”

Initial snowfall reports, after the storm moved east out of Nebraska late Saturday, indicated that 6 to 10 inches of new snow had fallen in the Omaha metro area, according to the weather service. With a snow total of 7.5 inches at Eppley Airfield, Omaha tied the December to February record set in the winter of 2003-2004.  

Lincoln broke its daily record with 8 inches of snow, surpassing the mark of 6.7 set in 1994. 

The National Weather Service office in Valley reported 9.3 inches of snow on Sunday. Other totals reported Saturday night included, 6 inches at Blair; 6.5 inches northwest of Glenwood, Iowa; 7 inches at Schuyler; 8 inches south of Bennington; 8.8 inches northeast of Chalco; 9.5 inches southwest of Offutt Air Force Base and also at a location northeast of Gretna. Two- to 3-foot drifts also were reported.

Despite the bone-chilling cold dropping down from Canada, eastern Nebraska and western Iowa should be dry during the week, Travis said. 

“Really, we’re just bracing for the cold as we go through the week,” AccuWeather’s Travis said. “You don’t want to spend anymore time outside than you must.”

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