Schools across the region began announcing closures and municipalities started declaring snow emergencies on Monday in anticipation for the heavy snowfall expected to occur in the area.
“We are very confident that there will be significant snowfall accumulations and travel impacts,” said Andrew Lyons, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Cheyenne on Monday, prior to the storm moving into the valley.
As of Monday afternoon, Scottsbluff was forecasted to receive 6-12 inches of snow, with the majority expected to fall overnight and into this morning.
By 10 a.m. Monday, snow had started falling in Laramie as the storm made its way east and cancellations began rolling in.
Eastern Wyoming College announced Monday morning that classes after 3 p.m. on Monday and all day today had been canceled.
By Monday afternoon, Western Nebraska Community College announced closures at campuses in Scottsbluff, Sidney and Alliance and area schools including Bayard, Gering, Minatare, Mitchell and Morrill had called off Tuesday’s classes and activities.
A snow emergency was declared for Scottsbluff, Gering and Terrytown and went into effect at 6 p.m. Monday. It will continue until further notice. Those living along emergency snow routes need to have their vehicles off the streets.
Lyons said that those planning to travel over Thanksgiving may want to reconsider because getting from one place to another may be nearly impossible.
Accumulations of 8-12 inches were predicted along the I-80 corridor. Areas higher in the mountains could see upwards of two feet, said Lyons. As of 4 p.m. on Monday, westbound I-80 was closed from Rocksprings to Rawlins, Wyoming due to weather conditions and crashes.
“This snow is going to come down very fast and it is also going to reduce visibility quite a bit,” said Lyons, adding that, “It’s unlikely that plows are going to be able to keep up with these rates.”
Those who have to travel are encouraged to take precautions. Keep an eye on road conditions and keep emergency supplies, such as a shovel, a charged cell phone and car charger, flashlights, first aid kit, blankets, extra clothing and kitty litter, which helps with traction.
A full tank of gas and extra travel time is also recommended.
Anyone who is traveling and in need of assistance can dial *55 or 800-525-5555 to reach the Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline.
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Pilot Leonard Abart of Bassett was lucky to find a landing spot among the snow-banked hills near Amy Jordan's house 35 miles south of Bassett. Published Feb. 5, 1949.
Harris Harmon (left) and Dick Tomlinson helping neighbors at 3 miles an hour in O'Neill. Published Feb. 5, 1949.
Planes line up at the Kearney airport for Operation Haylift, in which tons of hay were dropped on farms in the blizzard stricken area north and west of Kearney. Published in February 1949.
Pilot Joe M. Poland landed his plane on this hilltop to carry supplies to the stranded Harold Anderson family. Published Feb. 6, 1949.
A streamliner snowbound at Kimball, Neb., in early January 1949.
Howard Saferite, left, shakes hands with reporter John Koffend after Operation Snowbound. Saferite brought the 14 ton bulldozing tractor named Henriette from Kansas City to help with snow removal and Koffend was the reporter who followed Henriette's experiences in blizzard country. Published Feb. 20, 1949.
Frank Finley, left, a farmer along the weasel's mercy route, pokes his head in to study the strange vehicle. Soldier at right is Pfc. M.E. (Buck) Hardwick of Camp Carson, Colo. Published Feb. 6, 1949.
Cover of special section blizzard of 1949
E.L. Redman, Union Pacific brakeman from Kearney, Neb. was killed in this snowplow accident seven miles east of Stapleton Tuesday. The photo shows how the wedge snowplow, after smashing into a 14-foot drift, overturned and slashed into the second engine of a doubleheader pushing the plow. It was hours before workmen could cut away the wreckage and remove Mr. Redman's body. Published in January 1949.
Many difficult road conditions became less hopeless after the Army bulldozers went to work. Published in February 1949.
J.J. Ganney of Ashby, an agent-operator for the Burlington, stands on top a 10-foot drift talking over a portable telephone to report a cave-in to the division office.
At the Carl elder farm, 8 miles from O'Neill, a Fifth Army relief group traveling by weasel found the family in a bad plight. The Belzers were low on food and had been burning brush to supplement their meager fuel supply. Mr. Belzer (left) is shown chatting with Capt. William Tanski (right.) World-Herald reporter Paul Williams is interviewing Mary Belzer (hidden behind unidentified soldier.) Published Feb. 4, 1949.
Dean Davis (left) and Red Meiners load milk into a plane at Ogallala for delivery to Grant, which had no dairy. Both men have flown many aid missions to ranches and isolated farms. Miners, manager of the Ogallala airport hauled in the body of an elderly man who died a natural death in Arthur County. Published Jan. 10, 1949.
One trainman was killed and another injured in the snowplow wreck seven miles east of Stapleton, Nebraska. The two engines were pushing the wedge plow when it struck a hard packed drift. The blade swung around, ripped along the first engine and plunged into the second engine, killing brakeman E.L. Rodman of Kearney. Published Jan. 20, 1949.
Tekamah-Oakland highway 3 1/2 miles east of Oakland. Published January 1949.
William Lamprecht, a farmer near Bloomfield, drove this herd of hogs 3 1/2 miles to market. He said there was no way to get feed out to them and no way to truck them to town. Published Feb. 6, 1949.
The farm home of W.H. Fisher located 12 miles north of Scotia. The drifts piled around his house completely buried the outside toilet and shed. Mr. Fisher had to cut steps down the snow pile to access the buildings. Published Feb. 15, 1949.
How the Martin Landis ranch 45 miles south of Burwell looked when John McWilliams of the Nebraska Flying Service flew over in a relief mission. Published Feb. 12, 1949.
North Platte trucker N.O. Smith, left, stands by his ditched semi-trailer. He followed a fence to a house after he slid into a ditch during the blizzard. Published Jan. 8, 1949.
Farmer E.F. Eberly stands above the tunnel he made through 15 foot snowdrifts on his farm 2 miles southeast of Norfolk. The tunnel was 15 feet long and 7 feet high which he could walk through without stooping to get from the house to the barn to feed his livestock. Published Feb. 17, 1949.
A group of weasels, with Fifth Army men driving, roll down the main street of O'Neill. The servicemen and their caterpillar treaded vehicles took food and supplies to hundreds of isolated families. Published Feb. 4, 1949.
Aerial view of Harrison in January 1949.
A car belonging to W.H. Sherwood of Imperial provided the framework for this unusual product of heavy snow. Published March 31, 1949.
Cattle moving around after nearly being frozen at the Neal Hartford ranch near Central City.
Chadron was deserted at the height of the blizzard on Jan. 4.
The E.F. Goransen farm, 8 miles west of Gurley, Neb. Miss Marie Goranson took the photo from the roof of the corncrib (shingles shown in foreground.) The hole dug in the drift is several feet above the ground and leads to the window of another building where coal is stored. Mr. Goranson is standing on the top of a brooder house. Only a pipe remains above the snow. Published Jan. 25, 1949.
Operations tent and light planes used in rescue at at the Halley airport in Rapid City.
Dallas Morris, a truck driver from St. Petersburg florida thinks Iowa's winters for the birds. His truck spun off Highway 34 north of Glenwood and he spent the night in the cab waiting for snowplows to fee his truck. Published Feb. 10, 1949.
Manager Dixon K. Grassman of the Western Air Lines office at Alliance, Neb. has his finger on the keyhole which he said admitted all the snowdrift seen in the foreground. Published Feb. 8, 1949.
Eight flatcars of bulldozers, two per car, are headed for the storm-struck areas of Nebraska. This photo was taken at the Council Bluffs Union Pacific yard. Published Jan. 30, 1949.
Three Army Engineer bulldozers arrive at O'Neill. Published Jan. 30, 1949.
A weasel being loaded at O'Neill for shipment to Creighton, Neb. Published Feb. 5, 1949.
Ed Geisert had to receive medication by air drop at this farm 8 1/2 miles southeast of Ogallala on Jan. 8, 1949.
The World-Herald mailing crew trying to catch up with orders for copies of the special editions "Blizzard of '49" and "Operation Snowbound" on March 17, 1949
War Department inspectors look over the wreckage of a Civil Air Patrol plane which struck a high tension wire and ran into a house in Alliance while returning from a flight to deliver emergency rations and mail to snowbound ranchers. Pilot Clarence Kirkpatrick and observer John Huff died in the crash. February 9, 1949.
The main highway is not apparent in this photo of cars winding across the plains north of the road block on Highway 30, five miles west of Brule. Many of the cars headed west apparently got through to Big Springs by taking off through the fields for a distance of about 9 miles. Published Jan. 8, 1949.
Digging out the family car at the Price ranch west of Horn. Drifts were almost 18 feet. Published Feb. 12, 1949.
Soldiers unload sacks of coal from a weasel at the home of Mrs. Troy Howard near O'Neill. The grinning youngster is Joseph Howard. He has a reason to smile, Corp. Richard J. McDaniels is handing him a box of food. Published Feb. 4, 1949.
The rear of a work train in a deep drift. The train worked most of the way through the drift, but got stuck and returned to Callaway. Published Jan. 20, 1949.
A ground crew assisted by Kearney Civil Air Patrol members load baled hay into a plane for emergency haylift in early 1949.
The small community about 20 miles northwest of Ainsworth became "ghost town" overnight when the residents left before the last of Nebraska's blizzards. Published Feb. 3, 1949.
This big Army rotary snowplow actually growled as it attacked huge drifts on Highway 212, near Faith, South Dakota US Army photo. Published in February 1949.
One of the planes loaded with feed for thousands of cattle. Published Jan. 31, 1949.
These huge drifts in Harrison were partly man-made by shovelers who cleared a path. Virginia Davis was one of the many World-Herald carriers who had no papers to deliver for several days. Published in January 1949.
Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.