Nebraska looks to be in store for a major blizzard from Monday night into Thursday morning, impacting travelers in western Nebraska with potential closures anticipated throughout the state.
For the first major snow event of this winter season, Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) crews are prepared. While the forecast could fluctuate, concerns are a high potential for heavy snowfall coupled with sustained high winds, creating low visibility, especially in the panhandle.
This system will work its way through the state beginning this evening and will continue through Thursday morning, with blizzard conditions expected through tomorrow, Wednesday and into Thursday morning Travel after 6 p.m. is not advised. Motorists are encouraged to adjust or delay any travel as this major system moves through the region. NDOT crews will be out to clear the highways as weather allows.
“This winter storm looks to impact much of the western part of Nebraska, with potential for significant snowfall coupled with high winds along the I-80 corridor,” said NDOT Director John Selmer. “Regardless of the time of day or night, our crews at NDOT remain ready to address this winter storm and the different challenges it will bring. Drivers are encouraged to be informed about weather and road conditions before making the decision to travel by checking 511.nebraska.gov and plows.nebraska.gov. Remember to slow down, increase following distance, turn off your cruise control and always buckle up.”
“The time to adjust travel plans is now because this storm will have a major impact on travel in the Panhandle and much of western Nebraska,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “There are many tools available through NDOT to monitor conditions in real-time across the state. Stay up to date with weather forecasts and check 511 to make sure you know the conditions before you attempt to travel. If you do travel and become stranded, call the NSP Highway Helpline and we can send help.”
The NSP Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day at *55 or 800-525-5555 to speak directly with an NSP dispatcher who can send help to any stranded motorist.
Travelers are advised to be alert, be aware and check the most up to date travel conditions available through 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System. The system is available at all times via phone by, online at www.511.nebraska.gov, Nebraska 511’s smartphone app or by dialing 511. Travelers are also encouraged to utilize NDOT’s Plow Tracker at https://plows.nebraska.gov/index.html where the public will be able to observe road conditions in real time from the cabs of NDOT snowplows. Please note that weather conditions are often worse than they appear on camera.
Should travel be absolutely necessary, NDOT reminds motorists to be prepared with warm clothing, water and food. Be sure to travel on well-established routes and notify someone when you are leaving for your destination. If traveling a distance, a winter weather survival kit is advised with additional basic items.
If you must travel, do not drive faster than conditions allow. Surfaces will be slick under the snow and visibility may be poor. Allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
With snowplows out on the roads, travelers are urged to be cautious and courteous to those operating them, making sure to:
- Slow down as you approach plows. They travel slowly, usually 25-30 miles per hour or less.
- Stay well behind plows to give you and them plenty of room. When traveling outside of a business or residential district, it is unlawful to follow a highway maintenance vehicle (snowplow, truck or grader) more closely than 100 feet when it is plowing snow, spreading salt or sand, or displaying a flashing amber or blue light.
- Never pass a plow on the right – snowplows are equipped with “wing plows” which extend beyond the truck itself.
- Know where plows are and actions they may be taking while they plow snow.
Motorists are reminded to make sure everyone in their vehicle wears a seat belt and children are in a car safety seat. Do not use cruise control in wet or snowy weather and keep a full gas tank.