Interstates closed down, the military flew some of its jets out of Offutt Air Force Base, and the Nebraska State Patrol repositioned troopers and readied four-wheel drive crews.

No chances were taken Wednesday as a second massive storm in as many months slammed into Nebraska and nearby states.

The western two-thirds of the state was expected to grapple with blizzard conditions Wednesday evening into Thursday evening, while southeastern Nebraska found itself under the gun for severe weather Wednesday evening. Hail was expected to be the biggest problem Wednesday. Generally, pea-sized hail was reported, although there were some reports of hail stones as large as golf balls in Gage County.

Because of the potential for strong winds and hail, the 55th Wing flew some aircraft away from Offutt Air Force Base. Col. Michael Manion, the Wing’s commander, said in a social media post that the move was being taken “out of an abundance of caution.” Gov. Pete Ricketts gathered some of the state’s top safety officials for a press conference Wednesday to talk about preparations. He said it was too soon to know whether and where the snow and rain might cause additional flooding.

Maj. Russ Stanczyk of the Nebraska State Patrol reiterated earlier warnings about travel.

“If you don’t need to travel, please don’t,” Stanczyk said of the blizzard. The State Patrol shifted staff to the Nebraska Panhandle, where troopers are likely to be needed most, he said. Additionally, they readied their four-wheel drive crews in central Nebraska.

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Travelers heading west across Nebraska were being warned to pull off I-80. Westbound I-80 was closed at North Platte, and the Interstate was closed in both directions west of Big Springs. Other Interstate closings in the path of the blizzard included portions of I-29, I-70 and I-90.

“When these storms come along, we run out of places to park vehicles,” the Nebraska State Patrol tweeted of its need to extend road closures. “To help us help you — stay put, bed down, get a room.”

The power of the storm could be seen in many ways, including the temperature contrast as conflicting air masses collided. There was a 40-degree difference over the 200 miles between Grand Island, Nebraska, and Salina, Kansas, the National Weather Service in Hastings tweeted.

The severe weather threat in southeastern Nebraska is expected to subside by Thursday morning, though strong winds will continue to gust through Friday.

World-Herald staff writers Aaron Hegarty and Steve Liewer contributed to this report.

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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Phone: 402-444-1102.

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