Earth Watch Report  –  Snow Storm


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Today Snow Storm USA State of Nebraska, [Eastern regions] Damage level

Snow Storm in USA on Monday, 11 March, 2013 at 04:02 (04:02 AM) UTC.

An unexpectedly severe snowstorm dumped half a foot or more snow across much of eastern Nebraska on Sunday, shut down an 80-mile stretch of Interstate 80 and was at least partially to blame for a crash southeast of Lincoln that killed a 22-year-old Sterling man. The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said Loren D. Muhm died after he lost control of his 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and collided with an oncoming van on icy Nebraska 43 near Bennet. The other driver was uninjured. West of the Capital City, authorities shut down an 83-mile stretch of Interstate 80 as they dug out drivers stranded in the whiteout conditions. Eastbound lanes were closed from Grand Island to Northwest 48th Street in Lincoln, and westbound lanes from Northwest 48th to York. James Barger, a truck driver for Pierce, Colo.-based Indian Creek Express, said he was at the front of a massive pileup on the interstate just west of Goehner in Seward County on Sunday morning. He spoke to a reporter on the phone from a Red Cross shelter at 105 S. Sixth St. in Seward.

“My truck’s probably totaled, at least severely damaged,” he said. “These nice folks tracked me down a motel room for me and my dog.” Barger left the rest stop east of Goehner about 8 a.m. and within minutes, he came across a driver who’d stopped his Honda Civic along westbound I-80 because of the slippery conditions. Barger said he was helping the driver when a pair of trucks behind them started to jackknife, one going into the median and the other covering the roadway. A chain reaction crash resulted, ensnaring some 15 vehicles — at least, Barger said — but resulting in no major injuries that Barger was aware of after talking to rescue workers at the scene. State troopers still were assisting motorists and a Nebraska State Patrol spokeswoman wasn’t able to provide specifics on any crashes Sunday afternoon, but a dispatcher said she was unaware of any significant injuries or fatalities on the interstate between Lincoln and Waco. The closures left thousands of visitors stranded in Lincoln, either forced off the interstate at Northwest 48th Street or unable to leave after attended high school basketball tournament games.

A stream of semitrailers and family vehicles poured into west Lincoln for much of the day, with police working to keep things moving. Officers directed westbound traffic off West O Street at Northwest 48th in order to keep drivers off U.S. 6 and allow those on the interstate to spill into town, Lincoln Police Capt. David Beggs said. U.S. 6 was closed in both directions as far west as the Seward area. The state Department of Roads urged caution on almost all major roadways in Nebraska. A member of the public reported measuring 4 inches of snow in Lincoln at I-80 and Cornhusker Highway about 12:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. An additional 2 to 3 inches was in the forecast. Snow measurements varied across the region, with the heaviest amounts falling in a stretch north of Lincoln from Butler County through Saunders, Dodge, Burt and Washington counties and into Iowa, based on information from early Sunday posted Web page of the Weather Service office in Valley. Those counties were under a winter storm warning. Lancaster and Seward counties were also placed under winter storm warnings due to the near-blizzard conditions, said Scott Dergan, a meterologist in Valley.

Worse than forecast

Winter storm exceeds expectations

By Maggie O’Brien


A Sunday winter storm made driving conditions hazardous for a good chunk of the nearly 6,000 men’s basketball fans who had headed to St. Louis to cheer on the Creighton Bluejays.

Laura and Tom Walker of Omaha planned to spend the night in St. Joseph, Mo., not wanting to risk travel on Interstate 29. The Iowa Department of Transportation had advised against taking the highway because of low visibility and poor road conditions.

“We’ve been getting messages from all the kids’ friends saying how bad the weather is in Omaha,” said Laura Walker, who along with her husband had gone to St. Louis with their teenage son and daughter and two other kids. “We have a couple of my son’s friends with us, too, so their parents were leaning toward us spending the night.”

The storm ended up being much worse than initially forecast, dumping 6-10 inches of snow in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, said Erik Pindrock, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, The World-Herald’s weather consultant.

Pindrock said Lincoln had reported 7 inches of snow late Sunday, while Fremont was near 9 inches.

Final totals for the Omaha metropolitan area were not immediately available, and the snow was expected to fall until as late as 1 this morning.

Poor conditions closed Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Grand Island for much of the day — the roadway had reopened by about 9 p.m. — and canceled a handful of flights in and out of Eppley Airfield at the height of the storm, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.


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