CUSTER COUNTY— In the first few months of 2019, snow was the major story for much of the year with one of the worst natural disasters for Nebraska in recent years. As we end 2019, it only makes sense to have a blizzard that shut down roads and covered vehicles throughout the central part of the state.
As the storm was beginning, winter storm watches and warnings were issued far and wide by the National Weather Service giving residents time to prepare to hunker down for the final blizzard of 2019. The unpredictable storm system began by raining off and on throughout different parts of the state before letting loose winds and snow that would crawl over vehicles and spread across roads making travel nearly impossible.
While much of the snow fell in the central and northeast part of the state, seven inches of snow was reported in Valentine with winds gusting up to 48 MPH. 62 miles to the west in Merriman, a small amount of snow was reported with only 3.5 inches falling to the ground.
In Holt County, snow was plentiful with two feet of snow falling near Ewing and around 16 inches reported in O’Neill and in the Spencer area. O’Neill also did not avoid the wind as 49 MPH gusts were recorded.
While only 7-9 inches of snow fell in the Bassett area, snow drifts were reported to have been measured at 11 feet tall.
The Custer County area saw an array of snow amounts with six inches in Arnold and nearly triple that amount near Merna with 17 inches reported. Neighboring towns also reported double digits with Arcadia seeing 13 inches of snow, 10 inches were reported in Loup City, and 12 inches of snow fell in Ord.
While approximately 14-16 inches of snow fell in Broken Bow, the airport reported one of the highest wind gusts in the area at 53 MPH.
As the winter season continues on, for the latest information on road and travel conditions make sure to check out the Nebraska Department of Transportation website, 511.nebraska.gov.
Even with NDOT plows on the job, motorists need to consider their own safety, and encourage others to do so, when traveling during hazardous weather. A great first step is checking 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System, where the most up-to-date travel conditions are available. The system is available at all times via Nebraska 511’s smartphone app, online at 511.nebraska.gov, or by dialing 511 on your mobile device within the state, or dialing 1-800-906-9069 from a landline or outside Nebraska.
Another helpful tool, the Plow Tracker website shows real-time locations of NDOT’s snowplows on the Nebraska state highway system and has camera images from each plow of road conditions. The system is available at www.plows.nebraska.gov. Motorists are reminded that sometimes conditions are worse than what the image portrays, and 511 is the best option for assessing whether conditions are safe for travel.