Western Nebraskans Brace for Historic Winter Storm

March 12, 2021, 3:59 p.m. ·

Nebraska State Patrol Colonel John Bolduc says anytime National Weather Service meteorologists use terms like “historic,” it's critical the public knows as much as possible ahead of time (Photo by Fred Knapp).

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Nebraskans in the Panhandle are bracing for a historic spring winter storm coming this weekend. Western Nebraska residents should avoid travel by later tonight.

Winter storms this year like the one in Texas last month are setting records, and this storm is no different. Meteorologists are calling it historic, perhaps the worst they’ve seen in 20 years.

Cliff Cole is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in North Platte. He said it’s typical for long periods of nice weather in March to turn for the worse.

"They're expecting a foot of snow or perhaps even more out in the Panhandle. The situation there is a little uncertain there because if you get very, very heavy wet snow, it can stick to the power lines and could cause a power outage," he said. "So it's pretty precarious, and most of that snow should begin during the day Saturday and go all night, Saturday night into Sunday morning."

Assistant Director of Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Bryan Tuma said snow will turn to rainfall as it moves east for the next two to three days. Right now, the ground is warmer and ready to absorb the rain. Tuma said widespread flooding is not much of a concern.

"I really think that this is much less likely due to our current environmental conditions," he said. "So the caveat here is simply to be mindful of the conditions, monitor the weather reports. Blizzard conditions could exist in the Panhandle area of the state."

Nebraska State Patrol Colonel John Bolduc said the storm will affect travel in the Western part of the state. He recommends travellers check with Nebraska 511 before attempting to travel.

"If you have travel plans that will put you in those areas tonight and through the weekend, please make arrangements now to avoid traveling there in those dangerous conditions that are being forecasted at this time," he said.

Some roads are expected to close but snow plows in the Panhandle area are ready to go. Officials urge residents to watch weather reports because conditions could change rapidly.