'Pretty good storm' bringing a few surprises

Staff Writer

The storm that’s on it’s way across Nebraska is already provided a few surprises, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Cliff Cole, one of which is the temperature.

“The cold air is much more aggressive,” Cole said Wednesday morning (April 10, 11 a.m.) “Freezing rain is already underway in northern Nebraska, the Sandhills and the Panhandle..there appears to be snow in Lodgepole already…All areas will experience freezing rain and sleet before changing to snow.”

Cole said while there is little change from forecast snow amounts, people should keep in mind the difference between snow fall and snow accumulation.

“The strong winds will tend to compact the snow,” he said. “The warm ground temps will melt it.”

In a Tuesday conference with the Nebraska Dept. of Transportation (NDOT), Cole said the latest reports show road temperatures in the 30s and 40s. “As soon as the snow lets up, it will melt off the roads during the daylight hours,” he said. “Friday will be much improved.”

Cole called the storm “amazing,” adding that it will continue for almost 48 hours. It is a slow mover at 10 to 15 mph. Custer County could see a lot of freezing precipitation before snow begins in the area around 11 p.m.

For many areas, it will be early Friday morning before the storm ends. “Weather conditions Friday improve considerably when the winds diminish,” Cole said. Until winds die down, however, they may gust upwards of 50 and 55 miles per hour.

Snow fall is forecast to be one inch per hour with the storm and could be as much as 2-3 inches per hour in some areas.

“Tonight we see the brunt of the storm in western and north central Nebraska,” Cole said. “It will be in full swing by 7 o’clock Thursday morning.”

There is potential for one inch of liquid accumulation with the storm along 1-80 in western and central Nebraska. At a one to ten ratio, that means close to ten inches of snow, Cole said.

There is also potential for severe weather in the form of large hail in south central Nebraska.

“Anything can happen pretty quickly,” he said. “The cold air is in Nebraska sooner than we thought, about six hours sooner.”

Cole called this a “pretty good storm…one of the biggest” and said that it may no longer be that unusual as there was also a big snow in April of 2018.

Here are additional details Cole provided

- Arthur County: Freezing rain should change over to snow approximately 3-4p.m. today (Wed., 4/10/19).
- Chappell/Big Springs: Snow should begin around 4 p.m. with “heavier stuff taking hold after that.”
- Sidney: report of light snow (11:15 CDT).
- From Imperial to Ogallala to Mullen to Valentine and west; This is the “hot zone” and will most likely see the most severe winter weather. Cole wouldn’t rule out the Ainsworth to O’Neill area also seeing the most severe winter weather. “The cold air is already in place,” he said.
- Bassett, Boyd County: Snow changeover about 11 p.m., with freezing rain/sleet until then.
- Lincoln County: Snow may start around 7 p.m. this evening. Things will be in full swing by Thursday morning and will improve when the winds go down, possibly midnight Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.
- Conditions may begin to improve in the Panhandle Thursday night and will progressively move east.
- There is a possibility of power outages.

Custer County may see as much as 8-12 inches in the northwest corner with 4-6 inches for the southeast.

Winds may gust as high as 51 mph today and up to 54 mph tomorrow.

High temperatures will be largely 25-30 degrees below seasonal norms, with high 20s forecast for much of the Sandhills; 31 for North Platte, Broken Bow and Burwell; and 30 for Ainsworth and Springview for Thursday, April 11.