Heavy, wet snow with fiercely strong winds brought blizzard conditions to much of Nebraska Monday, causing traffic in parts of the state to shut down, cutting off power to thousands, and killing at least two.
The Kimball County Sheriff’s Office reports two people died Monday when the driver lost control of his vehicle on icy Highway 71 south of Kimball in the Panhandle.
Schools across the state canceled classes. Some businesses closed or shut their doors early. Whiteout conditions shut down travel in western, central, north-central, and northeastern Nebraska.
Snow totals varied widely with the brunt of the storm sparing the state’s two largest metropolitan areas, Omaha and Lincoln, and much of southeastern Nebraska.
About a foot-and-a-half of snow fell on north-central Nebraska, around the Ord and Fullerton areas. Norfolk, in northeastern Nebraska, recorded more than 14 inches of snow.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reported more than 5,000 Nebraskans without power due to the storm as heavy, wet snow brought down power lines.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation had to pull snowplows off some highways Monday after drivers could no longer see the roads. Snow plows had to get off Highways 20, 183, and 92 in the Broken Bow area for a while as visibility dropped to zero, according to NDOT.
Portions of Interstate 80 closed several times as the number of accidents piled up. Some were injury accidents.
I-80 rest areas in western Nebraska shut down for a while. Truck drivers pulled into the rest area parking lots or on the shoulder to wait out the storm.
The Nebraska State Patrol reported troopers came to the aid of stranded motorists stuck north of Grand Island. NSP reports troopers answered hundreds of calls.
The forecast provides some relief for the state. Temperatures are expected to steadily climb for the remainder of the week with highs above freezing, sunny skies, and more tolerable wind conditions.