I live in South Central Nebraska, six short miles from the Kansas state line. The tiny slice of Nebraska where I live is often called the “banana belt,” because we tend to have milder weather than the rest of the state in winter time. Starting yesterday (February 1, 2016) through today, this was definitely not the case. When I got up yesterday morning, there was not a flake of snow to be seen anywhere, not even on the protected, northern side of buildings. Not a single flake. It was raining, but within a very short period, the rain turned to sleet, and then to snow.
From sometime yesterday, through midnight tonight we were, and remain, under a blizzard warning. In fact, the conditions were bad enough that I-80 was closed down from mile marker 257 (Elm Creek), through 353 (York), and numerous other state roads were closed. Growing up in North Dakota, I was used to major storms. In fact, for those of us who grew up in North Dakota, we might argue that our state defined winter storms. Snirt storms (blowing snow and dirt making travel impossible), ground blizzards that leave a driver feeling as though they are driving sideways, because of the blowing snow, and even snowfall in excess of 18″ in 24 hours. Yes, North Dakota knows storms. But this part of Nebraska, not so much. Tornadoes, and flat line winds, sure. But nothing like major winter storms. Omaha and Lincoln, areas north of I-80, and out in the panhandle; those locations get a lot of snow, and some truly major storms. But the banana belt is just as the name suggests, some place that doesn’t deal with this often.
This afternoon early, at noon in fact, I took some pictures of the area closest to my house. The above photo is of my red cedar tree. I can normally walk under this tree, although some branches I have to duck to clear. Today the lower branches are all dragging on the ground. One limb has cracked.
The last time I checked, granted a couple of hours ago, we were still having wind gusts as high as 62 mph, with consistent wind speeds in the 33 mph range.
When I woke up this morning, there was no power. My guess is that power lines outside of city limits much have been compromised. Fortunately, the city I live in has their own generators, so the power outage lasted only about an hour. Nine years ago, before I moved here, this part of the state experienced an ice storm (far more common than blizzards) that knocked out power to some homes for as long as forty days! I am forever thankful that where I live, they have those city-owned generators.
When there is a storm forecast, people in this part of the world swarm to the grocery stores, stocking up on supplies. It’s seriously incredible to watch. Even people who live, like I do, only a couple of blocks from the grocery store, go out and buy copious quantities of milk, bread, eggs, and other “necessities.” Not me. I’m not sure why, but I refuse to worry.
Anyway, this storm actually came through with large amounts of snow and wind. But I survived, because I have enough food in my house to last for a week. I have coffee to last even longer. Priorities, people! I worry about those individuals who live on farms, and in outlying areas. Do they have power? I sure hope so. I don’t mean to sound cavalier, or as if I don’t care, because I do. But seriously, surviving this storm was so much easier than some of the summer storms I have lived through here.
The view from my front porch at noon, CST today. Normally, in fact virtually always, I leave my house thinking the weather isn’t bad, because there is no problem with visibility in town. Then I get a mile north of town, and I find that the roads are dangerous, or we are socked in with fog, or very limited visibility. This was the first time I have seen such limited visibility here in town, after living here nearly 8 1/2 years!
I think it is safe to say that snowmageddon was a new experience for me here in Nebraska. Thank goodness I didn’t have to go anywhere today. And, truth be told, I’ve been through far worse winter storms elsewhere in the country. But this one was fun for me – fun because I could stay put. I really hope that those who live in those outlying areas around here are also doing well! And if you are someone who lives where snow is rare, then enjoy the photos. I still haven’t shoveled my sidewalk. My snow shovel is buried under a 3′ deep drift on my front porch!
This morning, before I even managed to finish my first cup of coffee, I heard noises from my front porch. My amazing (truly) neighbor Jen had taken it upon herself to shovel my front porch and sidewalk! That is true Nebraska Nice! She is, without question, the #BestNeighborEver!
Reported totals of snow: The National Weather Service in Hastings said my town got 13″. Grand Island, about 80 miles from me, got 18.5″! As of about 10 a.m. today, I-80 was still closed between North Platte and Lincoln, a distance of 229 miles.