The Nebraska Panhandle is part of a pilot program for a new weather warning.
The National Weather Service in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which covers the Panhandle, will help test out a new Snow Squall Warning.
David Soroka, NWS National Winter Weather Program lead , says there is a need to better alert the public.
“We’ve known that these kind of short, intense snow squalls, which can come and go rapidly, and go from sunshine to white-out conditions for 20 minutes, and then back to sunshine – they really have caused significant number of serious accidents on interstates,” Soroka tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Meteorologists typically know a few days in advance if conditions are right to produce a snow squall.
“It’ll be similar almost to a tornado warning,” Soroka explains. “You’ll have maybe a half an hour to an hour of lead time, and say we expect this to come through, and then it will be valid for maybe half an hour to, again, an hour, and then it’ll be over.”
The Weather Service office in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is one of seven sites testing out the new warning this winter.
Soroka says Wyoming and Nebraska are good places to warn of snow squalls, especially along Interstate-80.
“This is something where people are driving at 60 or 70 miles per hour one minute,” he says, “and then they can’t see the next minute. Add to that the roads were dry and now they’re icy.”
NWS expects to expand the warning nationwide next winter.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:43]