Spring snowstorm hits Cheyenne County

6-inches of snow, 52 mph winds reported Wednesday


Anthony Ruiz / The Sun-Telegraph

Snow covers the sidewalks and streets of downtown Sidney during a spring snowstorm Wednesday. The storm brought 50-plus mph winds and between five and six inches of snow to Cheyenne County.

Cheyenne County was bathed in a sea of white for most of Wednesday as a spring snowstorm brought heavy snow and strong winds, blanketing the region leading into the Easter holiday and forcing the closure of Interstate 80 and other routes in the Nebraska Panhandle.

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne, Wyo., received reports of between 5 and 6 inches of snow in Cheyenne County from yesterday's snowstorm. Chad Hahn, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, stated in an email interview that snowstorms producing this amount of snow are not unusual during the months of March and April.

"In fact, looking back through the records, yesterday's snowfall amounts would rank somewhere around the top 25 of all-time March daily snowfall totals," Hahn stated. "So really, not all that unusual there."

Hahn stated what was more unusual was the strength of the wind that accompanied the snowfall.

"The peak wind gust that was observed at the Sidney Airport yesterday was 52 mph," he stated. "It is the wind that causes the bulk of the impacts with these types of systems. The combination of limited visibility, wind gusts that take down power lines (power outages), and the drifting (inability for plows to keep up) are really what causes the trouble.

"If you had a storm produce these snowfall totals with less wind, impacts would have been far and away less."

The City of Sidney declared a snow emergency that went in to effect at noon Wednesday and remains in effect until further notice.

In the event of a snow emergency, vehicles should be removed from emergency snow routes, designated by red and blue signs posted along the street, to help facilitate the ability of snow removal equipment to clear these routes as quickly as possible.

Additionally, residents can view a map showing all of the emergency snow routes on the City website at http://www.cityofsidney.org by typing "snow routes" into the search engine.

Residents whose vehicles remain on the street after the effective time will be contacted by City emergency personnel and requested to remove their vehicle, which may be cited and/or towed away at the owner's expense if not moved.

Also, the City of Sidney would like to remind residents not to place snow from their property on the city streets, which creates traffic hazards and additional problems for the snow removal crews. Residents are asked to place snow from sidewalks and driveways on grass instead.

Questions regarding the declaration should be directed to Sidney City Manager Ed Sadler at 254-4444 or esadler@cityofsidney.org.

Sidney Public Schools canceled classes Wednesday, and had a 10 a.m. late start Thursday, but were back to early dismissal in the afternoon.

Peetz, Leyton and Potter-Dix schools also canceled classes Wednesday, and remained closed going into the Easter break. Creek Valley schools dismissed in the early afternoon Wednesday.

As of early Thursday afternoon, I-80 remains closed to westbound traffic from Grand Island to Wyoming.

Anthony Ruiz / The Sun-Telegraph

City crews worked throughout Wednesday's snowstorm to clear the streets in Sidney for traffic.


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