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Winter storm hits Columbus on Thursday

December 28, 2018

Streets in Columbus were blanketed with snow and ice on Thursday as a winter storm swept through parts of the Midwest.

Platte County Emergency Manager Tim Hofbauer said the Columbus area was on the eastern edge of the storm going through the central/northern plains into the Upper Mississippi Valley. While this adverse weather isn’t anything unique for this time of year, Hofbauer said the rainfall early Thursday morning that preceded the snow was unusual.

As or Thursday evening, the storm was expected to pass through the Columbus area by nightfall or early this morning, making its way northeast. According to the National Weather service’s website on Thursday night, the Columbus area could potentially get some snow today, however, the weather is expected to be mostly clear and sunny through New Year’s Day.

“It’s a typical winter storm,” Hofbauer said. “Winter weather wise, this is common for this area.”

Columbus is expected to get 2 inches or less of snow from the storm while other areas like Grand Island and Kearney are expected to get as much as 6-8 inches of accumulation. Hofbauer said the weather further west near Broken Bow has been much worse, with whiteout conditions along some roads.

Several roads throughout the state were shutdown on Thursday due to weather. Interstate 80 was shutdown in one section, along with part of U.S. Highway 30.

“Really just lucky that the storm hasn’t moved farther east,” Hofbauer said. “Don’t travel unless you absolutely have to because the roads are very slick.”

Capt. Todd Thalken of the Columbus Police Department said there were some traffic accidents on Thursday due to the storm, but noted that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

“There’s been a few here and there, but no more than you would expect,” Thalken said. “Weather like this, you should always evaluate if you should be out on the road. Drive slowly and carefully.”

The day did claim it’s fair share of accidents. Thalken reported that a semi-truck transporting hogs rolled over while traveling through Columbus. He said the driver was uninjured. Hofbauer added that a train truck went off the road just east of Schuyler.

According to a press release from the Nebraska State Patrol, travelers are urged to check the most recent weather conditions by weather dialing the Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System at 511 or by visiting www.511.nebraska.gov.

“This storm is expected to potentially bring up to a foot of snow in some areas of Nebraska,” said Colonel John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, through a released statement. “It’s important that people finishing their holiday travel are prepared for winter driving conditions and drive safely.”

NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis agreed with Bolduc’s advise in the press release.

“With holiday travel on all our minds, we encourage our fellow Nebraskans to be fully informed about the weather and travel conditions,” Schneweis said. “We recommend travelers keep tabs on the weather and take every precaution to keep themselves safe and always remember to buckle up.”

Because of the current federal government shutdown, Hofbauer said the local National Weather Service Stations are short-staffed and reports are taking longer than usual to compile. Because of this, The Columbus Telegram was unable to get in contact with anyone from the Valley and Hastings National Weather stations. However, the stations’ websites have continued being updated with current weather forecasts during the shutdown.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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