September 22, 2014

Study: Nebraska winters will still be snowy despite climate change

Snowplow3A national report on climate change finds even with global warming, we’ll still have plenty of snow in the winters ahead in Nebraska and across much of the country’s northern half.

Climatologist Harry Hillaker says climate change is very gradual and snow blowers and shovels will remain necessities. Hillaker says the report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology didn’t exactly go out on a limb in predicting continued snowy winters for the Midwest.

“When you think about it, that’s not really much of a surprise, I guess the basic mechanism on how we get snow is not going to be changing in a warmer world,” Hillaker says. “The number of opportunities may be decreasing but the storms could be just as intense but probably not as frequent as what we’ve been seeing in years past.”

The Old Farmers’ Almanac forecasts the winter ahead will be colder than usual, then next summer will be hotter. The publication predicts winter temperatures, precipitation and snowfall will all be below normal, with the coldest period running from early December into the first half of January. Hillaker says it’s an extreme challenge to accurately predict the weather several months in advance.

“Certainly, not very easily and there’s lots of outfits out there like the Farmer’s Almanac and some private forecasters that attempt to do that sort of thing,” Hillaker says. “I don’t know if anyone’s attempted any kind of study of how accurate those prognostications are, but certainly it’s very, very difficult and we’ve got a long ways to go in those longer-range outlooks.”

While scientific advancements are making forecasts more on-target, Hillaker says no one can really predict now, at summer’s end, what the weather will be this winter.

“Certainly, the day-by-day forecasts, out a week or two, have gotten far, far better than they used to be just in the last 20 or 30 years, tremendous improvements,” Hillaker says. “On that longer range, say from 30 days on out, there’s some skill there, but still a lot of guess work.”

The MIT study predicts that some regions will see less snowfall, but the snowfall extremes may actually intensify.

No day off for Dakota City, recovering from severe storms

Nebraskans in extreme northeastern Nebraska are spending today not at cook-outs, but at clean ups.

Dakota City is recovering the Labor Day after severe thunderstorms with high winds touching 80-miles-per-hour at times took down power lines and did some structural damage throughout the city.

Dakota City Mayor Jerry Yecevich says all the destruction is still being assessed.

“We’re working on the infrastructure first; getting the streets cleared,” Yecevich tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX. “We still do not have power back on in all the residents in town, yet. That’s a goal. We need to get that back up so we can get people in their homes. Last night we had some problems with gas leaks. Some of these trees were uprooted.”

The storm crossed the Missouri River and hit Sergeant Bluff, Iowa hard. It also blew over semis and blew debris onto I-29, which had to be closed for a couple of hours.

Yecevich says though the storm caused some structural damage in town, the biggest blow was to the power grid.

“A lot of it are trees; then with the downed power lines,” according to Yecevich. “There are some garages, some small buildings that got hit (by) trees, vehicles. There is some minor home damage. We haven’t been through everything yet to know exactly what all has been damage. We’re kind of early in the stages.”

Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this article.

Storms prompt officials to urge disaster preparedness (AUDIO)

A summer of severe storms has promoted state officials to call on Nebraskans to be prepared in case disaster strikes.

Perhaps, the Sunday storms put a punctuation mark on the message by state officials that Nebraskans need to prepare for severe weather.

Gov. Dave Heineman declared September Nebraska Preparedness Month.

A state hit hard all summer by severe weather couldn’t escape the month of August without at least one more round. Stormy weather hit Nebraska on Sunday with straight-line winds clocked at 80 miles per hour in the eastern part of the state. The Panhandle suffered through rain, hail, and wind.

This summer, it seemed at times severe weather wouldn’t leave the state. It first struck on Mother’s Day and didn’t seem to let up until well into July.

“So this was a more taxing year, I think, than maybe the past couple,” Heineman says. “But you never know what’s going to happen relative to emergency weather.”

Heineman notes three federal disaster declarations have been issued for separate storms in Nebraska.

Even with such destruction, State Adjutant General Daryl Bohac reminds us each year stands on its own.

“If you go back to 2011, we faced floods; 2012, fires. Last year, you know, a little quieter, but I would remind us all in October, the community of Wayne was hit with a tornado and we had blizzards out in western Nebraska,” says Bohac. “So, it’s a little bit hard to do the comparative analysis.”

President Barack Obama issued a presidential disaster declaration for the destruction in Pilger in mid-June during which twin tornadoes formed outside the city with one of them cutting a swath through the heart of Pilger. Two died from the storm. The storm destroyed more than half the community in northeastern Nebraska.

The Mother’s Day storms that caused $20 million in damage to Beaver Crossing, Cordova, and Sutton.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reported $13 million dollars in public assistance has been spent to assist communities hit by tornadoes June 16th and 17th, the most severe of which being the June 16th EF4 tornado that destroyed much of Pilger.

The Small Business Administration issued a declaration of disaster for Stanton County for tornadoes, high winds, and flooding that occurred during June. Its five neighboring counties, Colfax, Cuming, Madison, Pierce, Platte, and Wayne, also will be eligible for low-interest federal loans.

A long-term recovery team has formed to help northeastern Nebraska The Northeast Nebraska June 2014 Long Term Recovery Team is a network of faith-based, non-profit, governmental, business, other organizations and citizens that can coordinate long-term recovery efforts in

Stanton, Cuming, Dixon, Wayne, and Thurston Counties. The group plans to provide a number of services, including those to meet financial, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

During Nebraska Preparedness Month, Nebraska residents are being urged to put together a plan to survive the first 72 hours of a disaster. The theme is “Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit and Get Involved.”

Families should discuss how they would respond to a disaster and should prepare by assembling an emergency kit.

State officials suggest an emergency kit should include:

· battery-powered or crank radio

· weather alert radio

· extra batteries

· first aid kit

· sanitary wipes

· dust mask

· water for drinking and sanitation

· water purification tablets

· waterproof matches and/or butane lighter

· crank flashlight

· plastic sheeting

· non-perishable food for at least three days

· disinfectants and medications.

· medical information for entire family, including details about dosages of required medications and a list of known health issues.

Preparedness guides and resources are available at <> and <>.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Storms sweep through Nebraska

Stormy weather hit Nebraska on Sunday with straight-line winds clocked at 80 miles per hour in the eastern part of the state.

The Panhandle suffered through rain, hail, and wind. A weather spotter in Gordon reported that so much hail fell the ground turned white.

The National Weather Service reports the early evening thunderstorm that roared through eastern Nebraska actually did most of its damage across the river in Iowa.

Those strong straight-line winds were reported in Dakota City, Nebraska as well as Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

Damage from a building flew onto Interstate 29, causing a non-injury accident that did enough damage to close the interstate for two hours.

The Omaha Public Power District reports more than 2,000 customers in Douglas County lost power. Most were restored by midnight.

Expect a wet Labor Day weekend

Remember the children’s rhyme, “Rain, rain go away. Come again another day”?

Much of the state is waterlogged after heavy rain this week.

National Weather Service – Valley meteorologist Dave Fobert says more is on the way. He says rain is in the forecast tonight and again on Sunday. There likely will be pockets of heavy rain in some areas.

Don’t put the umbrella away just yet. Fobert says there is also a chance of rain next week. He says the most likely days for rainfall will be Monday and Friday

The wet weather may impact plans for the Labor Day weekend. Several entry points along the Elkhorn River are closed and that will limit tubing and kayaking. Authorities in Saunders County also temporarily closed several roads due to flooding.