February 12, 2016

Survey of Nebraska wells shows groundwater levels are changing

(from the 2015 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report)

Groundwater levels are recovering after the 2012-2013 drought, according to the Nebraska Geological Survey’s Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report.

Measurements taken from Spring 2014 to Spring 2015 shows an average rise of a little more than six inches.

Aaron Young, survey geologist, says that is still far from making up for the recent drought.

“We’re rebounding from the drought that we experienced in 2012, where we saw one year declines of ten to 15 to 20 feet in some areas,” Young says. “We’re just coming back from those after a few wet seasons.”

Young says the next round of monitoring will include the heavy rains last May, which should have a positive impact.

“Some of the areas where that water sat there for quite a while, may see some pretty substantial groundwater level rises,” Young says. “Other areas, there definitely will be rises, but it’s difficult to say at this point how big those rises are going to be.”

This year’s monitoring will take place from late-March through April.

Like watching the weather? Learn to be an official spotter

TornadoIf you’re fascinated by watching storms roll in, it may be time to take your interest to the next level. Dozens of severe weather “spotter” training courses will be held in Nebraska over the next several weeks.

Kelsey Angle, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service, says the courses are free and open to all Nebraskans.

Angle says, “Anybody that has an interest in the weather and an interest in reporting information to the National Weather Service is encouraged to attend a spotter training course.”

The instructors are all meteorologists at the weather service and registration is not required ahead of time in most locations.

“The courses last generally about 90 minutes,” Angle says. “With that, we will cover what to report, when to report, how to report, how to identify the characteristics of thunderstorms and what a good report is.”

While the National Weather Service has trained thousands of Nebraskans as spotters over the years, he says you can never really have “enough.”

“That is true,” Angle says. “It’s always good, the more eyes and ears that you have on approaching severe weather is always good and quality reports certainly do help in the warning process.”

The classes start later this month and run through mid-April. For a full list of all the upcoming spotter courses, click here.


Winter storm in Nebraska one for the record books

A backdoor view of the snow in Hastings, NE (photo from NWS-Hastings, courtesy Judi Carpenter)

A backdoor view of the snow in Hastings, NE (photo from NWS-Hastings, courtesy Judi Carpenter)

The National Weather Service reports the Feb. 1-2 winter storm was record setting in parts of Nebraska.

The snowfall totals for Tuesday smashed records for the day and month in Grand Island and Hastings, but came short of being an all-time-high in those cities. That honor remains with a March 2006 storm.

Jeremy Wesely is the lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Hastings office. He says a widespread area of the state had a foot to a foot and a half of snow.

“This was a strong system,” Wesely says. “It moved at a slow enough pace and had enough gulf moisture to work with that it was able to put down those heavy snow amounts.”

Grand Island accumulated 18.3 inches of total snowfall, while Hastings had 15.7 inches.

Wesely says a satellite image shows snow now covers nearly the entire state. Only the far southeast corner escaped with mostly rain.

“And with the wind speeds sustained at 30 to 40 miles per hour, gusting 40 to 50 miles per hour,” Wesely says, “with those kind of snowfall amounts, you can see why Interstate-80 was closed for over 24 hours.”

He says once the central Nebraska snow melts, the ground will take in 1.25-1.75 inches of water.

I-80 re-opens across Nebraska

I-80 at Aurora/NSP photo

I-80 at Aurora/NSP photo

Interstate 80 has re-opened in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Department of Roads closed the interstate, from Lincoln to North Platte, as blizzard conditions stranded vehicles and made travel nearly impossible on I-80 Tuesday. The interstate remained closed for more than 200 miles as vehicles were removed and snow plows pushed snow off the pavement.

NDOR re-opened the interstate in intervals, opening it at Kimball at 1:30pm Wednesday, then at Ogallala at 1:45pm. I-80 opened for traffic at all other locations at two o’clock this afternoon.

The severe winter storm shut down a number of roads in Nebraska, severely crippling travel in the southwestern part of the state. At one time, blizzard conditions forced NDOR to pull snow plows off the roads in the northeastern part of Nebraska.

For up-to-date information on road conditions, click HERE for NDOR’s road condition report.


Snow day and sledding in Nebraska

School is cancelled for a second day in many parts of the state after Tuesday’s snowstorm and blizzard. Erin Bock of Omaha is making good use of the free day and the snow and took her children sledding this morning at Memorial Park.

Bock says, “We spent yesterday keeping it pretty low-key. It was time to get off the video games and screen time and get out and get some exercise.”

Bock is hoping a good morning workout leads to an afternoon nap for her children.