Travel warning issued for central, western Nebraska as storm moves in

December 27, 2018

Hazardous travel conditions from the potent winter storm slamming the central and northern U.S. have Nebraska officials advising travelers to plan ahead if they’ll be on the road between Thursday morning and Friday morning.

The area of the U.S. under winter storm advisories stretches diagonally from eastern Colorado across the heart of Nebraska into the Dakotas and Minnesota.

The stretch of Interstate 80 under a winter storm warning runs roughly from about Grand Island west to the Nebraska Panhandle.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the National Weather Service warned of the potential blizzard-like conditions.

Most of eastern Nebraska, including the Omaha area, and Iowa will generally see rain.

About 4 inches to a foot of snow has been forecast for central and western Nebraska.

A blizzard warning is in effect for portions of the Dakotas.

Another worry: A glaze of ice could coat surfaces in western and central Nebraska by early Thursday. Temperatures were falling Wednesday as it was raining, generating the possibility of a period of freezing rain before the precipitation changes to snow.

On Thursday, that snow was expected to continue much of the day, tapering off in the evening.

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.

Today’s forecast for Omaha called for rain and temperatures falling from about 48 in the morning to below freezing by evening, when some snow is possible.

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.

Because snowplows will be out, the Nebraska Department of Transportation issued a plea: Don’t crowd plows. “Keep plenty of distance for all workers to do their job clearing the road.”

World-Herald staff writer Rick Ruggles contributed to this report.

Update hourly