City snow removal
Omaha snow removal crews are “planning for the worst,” said Scott McIntyre, the city's street maintenance engineer.
“This really has the potential to be a pretty significant snowfall,” McIntyre said. “It's going to be a difficult snow operation to stay on top of.”
Officials are keeping a close eye on the forecast. They plan to announce this morning whether Omaha will formally declare a snow emergency.
Omaha trucks will begin applying brine — salt water often mixed with a sugar beet derivative — late tonight through early Thursday, McIntyre said, then work to keep main streets as clear as possible when the snow arrives.
“I would anticipate residentials on Thursday and a good part of Friday are going to be pretty slow going,” McIntyre said.
Omaha will deploy about 200 vehicles to clear the streets, he said, about half supplied by private contractors.
In Council Bluffs, crews will begin pre-treating major routes this morning. By this afternoon, all available trucks will have plows installed for the work ahead. The city has 16 trucks and four graders, plus several snowblowers and Bobcats in its snow-battling arsenal. — Juan Perez Jr.
Omaha parking rules
If city officials declare a snow emergency, here are the emergency parking rules:
The rules apply east of 72nd Street.
If it's an even-numbered day, park on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses. That's the north or west side.
If it's an odd-numbered day, park on the side of the street with odd-numbered addresses. That's the south or east side.
“No parking” signs with arrows must still be obeyed. But if the sign says “No Parking This Side This Block,'' you can park there if you're following the even/odd rules.
Handicapped parking spaces may not be used by any vehicle when parking is prohibited.
Plowing Interstate highways
Will Interstates in Iowa and Nebraska close?
Roads officials in Nebraska and Iowa say it depends on a number of factors. Snowfall amount is only one. Others include wind, visibility, whether it is safe for road crews to plow and whether there is a crash of some kind blocking the road.
How do officials close the Interstates?
Roads departments generally notify the public through the news media, their websites and electronic signs.
If gates are available, they close them. But if a gate is not available, crews may block the road with a snowplow or some other vehicle.
There are far more gates in Nebraska than there are in western Iowa.
“We have at least 100 closure gates on I-80 west of Lincoln,” said Mary Jo Oie, spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Roads.
In western Iowa, there is a set of gates to block the northbound lanes of I-29 at Missouri Valley and another for the southbound lanes in the Sioux City area.
What are road crews doing to get ready?
Transportation officials in both states have been monitoring the weather, getting trucks ready, filling tanks with gas, making sure the lights are working and so on.
Iowa has 901 snowplows statewide and 11 active large snowblowers that are used when snow is so deep that plows can't handle it. Nebraska has 600 snowplows and 25 large snowblowers, officials said. — Andrew J. Nelson
To check road conditions
Call 511 or 1-800-288-1047 for Iowa and 1-800-906-9069 for Nebraska.
Lincoln seeks snow-shoveling volunteers
Lincoln has issued a call for more Snow Angels — volunteers to shovel snow for those who are unable to clear their sidewalks and driveways.
Individuals or organization wishing to volunteer for the program may sign up online at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: snow).
People who need help with shoveling can find nearby volunteers by checking online or by calling the Snow Center 402-441-7644 during regular business hours. Those needing assistance are asked to wait until after the snowfall is over to call the Snow Center for assistance.
Aging Partners also has a program to provide snow removal for low-income senior citizens. For more information, visit aging.lincoln.ne.gov (click on “housing”) or call 402-441-7030.