Parts of northern, central Nebraska could see up to 18 inches of snow
Parts of west-central and north-central Nebraska could see up to 18 inches of snow and winds gusting to 35 mph before the weekend is over, 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.
Some events in the cities were already being canceled Friday night.
In Grand Island, the local YMCA has a recreational fun run scheduled for Saturday morning, with about 150 runners registered.
The forecast called for snow starting about 7 a.m. Saturday in the city.
As of Friday, the Decembrrr Dash was still on, according to the group.
“The forecast is for snowy conditions and that’s what The Dash is all about!” said a post on the YMCA’s Facebook page.
Cara Lemburg, one of the organizers, said they were keeping an eye on conditions and would alert runners early in the morning if the weather looked too bad.
“If it looks like we should postpone it, we’ll send an email to everybody,” Lemburg said. The event is expected to wrap up by mid-morning, so they hope to finish before the worst of the weather hits.
“I hope it hangs on for us,” Lemburg said. “Otherwise we’ll be back out next weekend.”
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.
Northwest Iowa is also expected to see a fair amount of snow, from about 3 to 4 inches in the Onawa area to up to 8 inches in the far northwest corner of the state.
Rain that started Friday in the Omaha area should transition to snow by Saturday night, said David Pearson, a meteorologist in the weather service’s Valley office.
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.”
The president of a company that does walking tours of Omaha said he doesn’t expect the weather to be a big concern.
Alan Rust, president of the Nebraska Tour Company, said that when winter weather hits, they can usually adjust schedules to accommodate their guests.
Winter is “definitely not as busy as in the summer,” Rust said, but as long as his customers are a bit flexible, things usually work out.
World-Herald staff writers Dan Golden and Grace Gorenflo contributed to this report.