All Interstates, state highways shut down in Nebraska Panhandle due to expected blizzard conditions

All Interstates, state highways shut down in Nebraska Panhandle due to expected blizzard conditions
A car is stuck in the snow on Interstate 80 near Greenwood on Thursday, March 7, 2019. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

All state highways and Interstates in the Nebraska Panhandle have been closed, the Nebraska State Patrol announced at about noon CDT on Wednesday.

“Do not attempt to travel in this storm,” the patrol advised in a tweet.

Westbound Interstate 80 at North Platte was closed at 1 p.m. in anticipation of a blizzard moving into Nebraska this morning, the Nebraska Department of Transportation announced.

The road closures come as a major winter storm rolls out of the Central Rockies. It is forecast to strike western Nebraska Wednesday, leaving as much as 15 to 20 inches of snow in the Panhandle.

“The cool air will be moving west to east and lower temperatures in the Panhandle this afternoon and producing snow,” said meteorologist Brandon Thorne of the National Weather Service Office in North Platte. “It looks like the rain we’re seeing now (in North Platte) will change over to snow about 3 or 4 p.m. along a line from Valentine (in the northwest) to Oshkosh (in the southwest).”

The blizzard warning is in effect through Thursday evening.

The storm is expected to have an impact across the central U.S., across all of the Plains states into the Mississippi Valley and on into the Upper Great Lakes, according to the forecast. It will be responsible for heavy rains, severe thunderstorms, isolated flooding and blizzard conditions, the weather service said.

Winds of 35 mph, gusting to 65 or 70 mph are expected in western Nebraska Wednesday night through Thursday, Thorne said. The brunt of the storm is forecast to land in northwest Nebraska, including Dawes, Sheridan and Cherry Counties.

As the storm develops, “travel could be very difficult. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility … Strong winds could cause extensive damage to trees and power lines,” the weather service said.

Large temperature contrasts are expected on either side of the storm, with much above-average temperatures ahead of the storm and much below-average temperatures in its wake. North Platte should see just an inch or so of snow, Thorne said, with rain forecast for Omaha and eastern Nebraska.

Travelers are advised to stay up to date on travel conditions by checking 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System. The system is available online at www.511.nebraska.gov, Nebraska 511’s smartphone app or by dialing 511.

Travelers also can check the state transportation department’s Plow Tracker at https://plows.nebraska.gov/index.html, where the public will be able to observe real-time road conditions from the cabs of snowplows. Weather conditions are often worse than they appear on camera, according to the department.

ACCUWEATHER FORECAST 

STORM CLOSINGS AND CANCELLATIONS

ROAD CONDITIONS

Nebraska

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