A springtime blizzard hit Nebraska with a powerful punch Friday evening into Saturday, shutting down highways, stranding motorists, and paralyzing much of the state.
The April storm weakened as it entered eastern Nebraska, bringing only light snow to Omaha and Lincoln.
Highways are slowly returning to normal after Nebraska Department of Transportation snow plows returned to work once the storm eased and they could work the roads.
Interstate 80, closed after the blizzard made travel nearly impossible, is open again, though width limits are in effect in western Nebraska.
Other highways in western, central, northern, and northeastern Nebraska are slowly re-opening as well. NDOT reports critical disruptions still on Nebraska 11, U.S. 30, and Nebraska 92. There remains closures and blockages on Nebraska 11 and U.S. 30.
Consult Nebraska 5-1-1 for more on road conditions.
Reports of as much as a dozen inches of snow fell in some parts of Nebraska with the heaviest seemingly falling in north-central Nebraska. Fierce winds piled up wind drifts from the western portion of the state to mid-Nebraska and up in northeastern Nebraska.
The Nebraska State Patrol reports one fatality during the blizzard. 61-year-old Rollo Ward of Idaho Falls, Idaho lost control of his semi tractor-trailer on I-80 near mile marker 84 while driving east Friday. The truck slid into the median and struck a stranded semi. Ward was pronounced dead at the scene.
State troopers along with the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Office, Sidney Police Department, Sidney Public Schools, Cheyenne County Emergency Management, the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and others, worked Friday to clear all of the stranded vehicles.
In total, more than 100 motorists were rescued.
NSP says two areas near Sidney caused major problems. One section on I-80 stretched for more than a mile and a half. Sidney Public Schools offered buses to assist in the rescue, which were escorted to the scene by patrol vehicles and snow plows.
Law enforcement officers went car to car, knocking on the windows of all of the vehicles, rescuing the occupants from freezing temperatures. Officers took those rescued to Light Memorial Presbyterian Church in Sidney or to a hotel.
The blizzard stranded an estimated 1,000 semis in western Nebraska.
In addition, stranded motorists made more than 80 calls for assistance during the storm.
NSP reminds stranded drivers to call *55 to reach the NSP Highway Helpline.
NSP reports road conditions remain poor to impassible in many parts of central to western Nebraska. I-80 remains closed to westbound traffic from Grand Island to the Wyoming state line. Eastbound I-80 is closed from the Wyoming state line to Ogallala.
Keep up-to-date on other road closures by calling 511, visiting 511.Nebraska.gov, or by downloading the 511 smartphone app.