Tuesday a day to stay put, weather watchers say

With all the checkout lanes open Sunday, shoppers at Hy-Vee, 5150 Center St., still had to wait. Many were stocking up for the storm.


If you're not yet convinced that blizzard conditions will make travel treacherous on Tuesday, here's something to consider:

Staffers at the National Weather Service already are preparing for the possibility of bunking down at the office Monday and Tuesday nights.

"We think it's going to be extremely dangerous Tuesday morning and all through the day Tuesday due to blowing snow and white-out conditions," said Becky Kern, meteorologist at the weather service office in Valley. "We're putting plans in place for folks who want to spend the night here."

Blizzard watches and warnings extend from the central Kansas-Nebraska border through eastern Nebraska, western Iowa and into southern Minnesota. Much of that area will see at least 8 inches of snow, along with winds gusting to 40 mph or more.

AccuWeather Inc., The World-Herald's weather consultant, forecasts a potential 12 to 18 inches of snow in the Omaha metro area. Randy Adkins, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, was as concerned about Tuesday travel as the weather service.

"I don't think most people would want to chance going into work Tuesday morning, not when blizzard conditions are expected," he said. "We don't say things like this very often. We'll typically reserve these strongly worded statements for when conditions are exceptionally dangerous."

In open areas, white-out conditions are likely to make travel disorienting, and blowing and drifting snow could make roads impassable, meteorologists say.

With the weather service advising that travel Tuesday could be difficult if not impossible, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert called on school districts and businesses to take that warning to heart.

"I encourage businesses and school districts to consider the safety of their students and employees on Tuesday," she said in a statement Sunday. "If you can operate with essential personnel only and stagger times for employees to report in the morning and leave in the evening, it will help reduce traffic so we can keep the streets as clear and safe as possible."

School officials will decide today about classes Tuesday, said spokeswomen for the Omaha, Bellevue and Westside school districts.

The American Red Cross said Sunday evening that it had volunteers, relief supplies and emergency vehicles ready to be deployed and that shelters will be available.

The city is coordinating with the Douglas County Emergency Management Agency, the Police and Fire Departments, the County Sheriff's Office and the Omaha Public Power District, Stothert said.

For at least the third day in a row, business was brisk at local stores as people stocked up on supplies.

"We had to call in a lot of extra help to have all the check stands open," said Stacie Falor, manager at Baker's on 120th Street and West Center Road. "We have extra baggers and extra associates in each department."

It's clear that parents are thinking about what to feed their kids if classes are canceled, she said. "We have seen a lot of Lunchables go today," Falor said.

For Terri Walz of Omaha, shopping on Sunday is part of her routine, so she decided to stock up while she was at it.

"I'm trying to get extra bread, milk, eggs, the things you can throw together and make something in the house," Walz said.

Larry Brown, an employee at Ace Hardware near 50th and Center Streets, said the store sold a few snow blowers Sunday, quite a bit of salt and more snow shovels than usual.

The last time Omaha has seen a storm of this magnitude was over the Christmas holiday in 2009, said Kern, the meteorologist.

Snowfall may begin this afternoon or evening, but people should be able to complete errands after work today, Kern said.

"It won't be really bad," she said. "Roads might get a little sloppy."

The brunt of the storm comes after midnight.

World-Herald staff writer Kevin Cole contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1102, nancy.gaarder@owh.com

WHAT IS A SNOW EMERGENCY?

The City of Omaha has issued a snow emergency effective at midnight tonight. This bans parking on snow routes, and vehicles will be towed. East of 72nd Street, odd-even parking restrictions go into effect. For the 24 hours beginning at midnight, vehicles are to park only on the side of the street where addresses end in even numbers. On Wednesday, parking will shift to the odd-numbered side of the street. Vehicles not parked in accordance with the odd-even rule will be ticketed.

WHAT IS THE SNOW PLOWING PLAN?

Public works crews in Omaha began pretreating streets Sunday in preparation for the storm.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said the city will increase the number of crews and plows clearing Omaha's major streets. The city's construction division, which usually works in residential areas, will be redirected to major streets. Parks Department personnel, who typically clear parking lots for community centers, libraries, trails and other facilities, will be reassigned to streets as necessary. And major streets with high traffic volume and hills will get extra attention. Private contractors will handle secondary and residential streets.

The street clearing plan will be modified as merited.

The mayor's hotline will be open for extended hours Tuesday to answer questions about snow removal and the snow emergency. Dial 402-444-5555 or email hotline@cityofomaha.org

WHAT ABOUT CLOSINGS?

Check with Omaha.com/weather for the latest information, including forecasts, closings and cancellations.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.