Hazardous driving, high winds expected this weekend

Martin Rabago cleans off a walk on East 14th Street in Scottsbluff Tuesday. Monday's snowstorm was the first of two weather systems to plow through the Panhandle. Snow and high winds will produce ground blizzards and near whiteout conditions through early Sunday. For travelers that must be on the road, extreme caution is urged.

High winds and hazardous driving conditions could put a damper on a heavy shopping weekend.

On Monday afternoon, a storm front plowed through the Panhandle, leaving up to nine inches of snow in some areas. A light drizzle began to fall, quickly freezing on roads and sidewalks Thursday evening and into Friday morning, making for treacherous conditions for both drivers and pedestrians.

Meteorologists have forecast another front will roll in Friday evening, extending the impact on travel for those venturing out for shopping or returning from the holiday weekend.

Andrew Lyons, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Cheyenne, said southerly airflow over the cold snowpack made for fog and drizzle through Friday afternoon as the front’s leading line came through.

“As heavier precipitation develops with snow and rain, it will clear the fog out,” Lyons said.

NWS models showed that snow would begin Friday evening in areas across the Laramie Range and move northeastward through Sunday.

A blizzard warning was extended to include all of Scotts Bluff County and Goshen County in Wyoming and would be in effect until early Sunday morning.

“We’re still expecting the highest snow totals to be across northern Scotts Bluff County,” Lyons said. “The storm will transition overnight into some very strong northerly winds on the back side of the system that could really cause some travel problems.”

Throughout the day Saturday and into early Sunday, strong winds, with gusts of 65-75 mph possible, are expected.

“The storm will transition into some very strong winds on the back side of the system that could really cause some travel problems,” Lyons said. “The southern Panhandle could especially see winds gusts of possibly 65 to 75 mph until early Sunday.”

Because of existing snowpack, along with any new snowfall, it’s likely that ground blizzard and near whiteout conditions will be in effect for a large portion of the Panhandle.

For those returning from Thanksgiving visits, travel will be extremely dangerous — if not impossible — until early Sunday morning.

“These systems are very strong and can cause a lot of travel disruption,” Lyons said. “If you weren’t able to get back early, the best bet is to stay in place until the weather clears on Sunday.”

The latest road conditions are available by calling 511.​

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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