Winter Storm Closes Roads, Leaves Many Without Power

Feb. 2, 2016, 2:05 a.m. ·

Wet, heavy snow is taking its toll on trees and power lines in Nebraska. (Photo by Dennis Kellogg, NET News)

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A strong winter snow storm has affected much of Nebraska, closing parts of Interstate 80 and leaving thousands without power.

The number of Nebraska utility customers without power because of the snow and wind has been cut to less than 4,000 by midday Tuesday.

The state's major utilities say they are making significant progress. Earlier Tuesday morning, more than 20,000 customers had lost power.

Most of the outages have been in the Omaha area where heavy, wet snow combined with strong winds to cause problems. The Omaha Public Power District says the number of customers without power in its territory was about 3,378 at noon.

Crews from the Omaha and Nebraska Public Power Districts and the Lincoln Electric System are working to restore power, but the storm was creating challenging conditions at times.

Heavy snow and strong winds also forced officials to close more than 100 miles of Interstate 80 in eastern Nebraska because of dangerous conditions.

As of 2:30 p.m. CT, The Nebraska Department of Roads closed I-80 from Lincoln to North Platte because of the hazards.

In western Nebraska, Interstate 76 was also closed between I-80 and I-70 in Colorado.

Several smaller highways in southwest Nebraska are also closed leading into Kansas.

Officials say the wind and snow are creating blizzard conditions across much of the state, so officials are not recommending travel across most of Nebraska. Get the latest road reports from the Nebraska 511 Traveler Information website.

The heavy, wet snow is also hard on trees. Justin Evertson of the Nebraska Forest Service says most will bend back into shape as the snow melts, and trying to knock the snow off branches may do more harm than good. But some trees, like young evergreens, could use a little help. Visit the NET News Facebook page for more advice on tree care.

Editor's Note: Click on "Listen To This Story" above to hear NET News Director Dennis Kellogg's Tuesday evening interview with Mike Moritz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hastings, on the latest with this storm.