Wintry weather is brushing quickly across Nebraska today and tonight.
Snow has begun falling in the Nebraska Panhandle, where another round of snow showers are expected this afternoon and evening. Each band of snow is likely to drop as much as 4 or 5 inches, but most of the snow is expected to melt quickly.
While no snow is expected in eastern Nebraska, the season's first hard freeze is forecast for the Omaha metro area tonight and Saturday.
Omaha gardeners wanting to protect annual flowers and vegetables from the sudden chill will need to cover their plants both nights.
Tonight's low in the Omaha area is forecast around 28 degrees and on Saturday, night temperatures could drop to 26 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. That's low enough to kill most annuals, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. After this weekend, overnight temperatures are forecast to rebound, at least into the middle of next week.
Omaha dodged freezing temperatures Thursday night because clouds moved in, said Dave Eastlack, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Clouds hold in heat, so the low dropped to 34 degrees instead of the few degrees chillier than had been forecast.
Most of the northern Nebraska Panhandle had received 2 to 4 inches of snow by this morning, but some areas of the Pine Ridge, near Crawford and Harrison, had received 5 to 6 inches, said Chris Hammer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Some of the snow was melting as it fell because the ground was so warm.
A lull in snowfall is expected Friday afternoon and then a stronger storm is forecast to move in, Hammer said.
Overnight travel on local roads and Interstate 80 could get tricky, depending on conditions, he said.
Rain is forecast Friday afternoon in the Panhandle, and as the rain turns to snow and nighttime temperatures drop, it's possible that some stretches of roadway will get an icy glaze.
The second band of snow is expected to drop 4 to 5 inches of snow by the time it moves out on Saturday. It won't stick around, because highs are forecast in the 40s Saturday afternoon and in the upper 60s by Monday afternoon.