Bitter north winds roared through Friday night and continued Saturday, but total snowfall was lighter than expected in the blizzard that hit the North Platte area.
An estimated 4 inches of snow fell in North Platte, about half of what was expected. The snow contained about 0.20 inches of moisture, while the wind gusted up to 55 mph at the peak of the storm around 2 a.m. Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Ogallala and points west and north were hit harder. The snow was heavy and wet, bringing much needed moisture, residents said.
The sun broke through Saturday afternoon in North Platte, but the cold north-northwest wind continued to gust to 30-40 mph. The high reached 30 degrees, the weather service said.
Winds diminished to 10-15 mph overnight Saturday night and the temperature dropped to 15 degrees, driving the wind-chill to zero, the weather service said.
Sunday will be sunny with a high near 40, with steady winds around 10 mph out of the north, as the storm front finally moves away.
The high Monday could reach 50 degrees and the wind will come from the south. There is a 50% chance of freezing drizzle Tuesday.
Travel continued to be difficult-to-impossible in many areas of the state on Saturday, the weather service said.
Roads closed west of Ogallala due to blinding snow late Friday afternoon, as the blizzard arrived in the area, ushered by frigid northerly winds and a brief hail storm. I-80 remained closed Saturday pending the removal of more than 100 stranded vehicles from Paxton to Chappell.
By 4 p.m. Friday, north Arctic winds gusted above 50 mph. Snow began around 6 p.m., the National Weather Service in North Platte said.
Howling Arctic winds, with gusts up to 55 mph, are driving the wind chill to near zero. Visibility dropped to near zero in the heart of the storm, the weather service said.
I-80 west of Ogallala closed at 4 p.m. CDT due to white-out conditions.
Ogallala and Paxton rescue crews were overwhelmed with emergency calls late Friday afternoon. They said as many as 300 vehicles slid off the road or were blocked by accidents, and rescuers were unable to reach many of them due to zero visibility and blocked roads, the Lemoyne-Keystone Fire and Rescue said.
Roads also began closing in the Sandhills Friday afternoon and power outages were reported, the weather service said.
(This report was updated at 7 a.m. Sunday.)
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