After a weird mix of snow, freezing rain and plunging temperatures this weekend, the streets in some Lincoln neighborhoods iced over so bad, the roads could have passed for a skating rink.
So 15-year-old Austin Keifer took the logical next step: Lace up the ice skates and head down the road. And Dad, of course, grabbed the camera and followed.
The Keifers’ video of Austin ice skating around his northwest Lincoln neighborhood has been shared widely on YouTube and Facebook. So widely, in fact, that his 7-year-old brother, Carson, wanted a crack at Internet fame and he, too, laced up his skates with Dad in tow.
Ed Keifer, the boys’ father, said the most common response they’ve received has been, “Oh man, I wish I had skates. I’d do that.”
Keifer said he doesn’t blame the city for the roads but hasn’t forgotten last year, either, when they had more than 7 inches of snow over a couple of days and didn’t see a plow.
“It was a weird weather situation,” he said. “The reason I took the video was to poke fun at the city.”
Keifer estimated that the roads in his neighborhood had about 1 to 2 inches of ice on them as of Sunday evening.
Austin Keifer made the skating look easy in the video, but he said he had to be careful not to damage his skates on some of the rough patches.
“It wasn’t perfect skating conditions,” he said. “It was very rough.”
Lincoln and Omaha had similar weather when the snow and rain moved through Friday, but Lincoln was a little bit warmer, said Scott Dergan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Valley.
“That may have led to a little bit different makeup in the ice there,” he said. “These are the kinds of systems where a degree or two can really make a difference in the character of the ice and snow on the ground, especially after it got dark and that cold front moved through.”
Tim Byrne, manager of maintenance operations for the City of Lincoln, said most residential streets in Lincoln were about as iced over as the ones that the Keifers skated on. And he noted that Lincoln hasn’t been alone in this problem — it’s being experienced in communities across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.
Byrne said snow-packed residential roads turned to sheets of ice as a result of the drizzle followed by plunging temperatures. Anti-icing materials placed on major routes kept those from freezing up, he said, but the city’s winter maintenance program doesn’t have the resources to use those materials citywide.
Instead, sand is available to help with traction on residential roads.
Street salt, brine and similar materials are costlier than sand and must be shipped in from out of state. Lincoln has about 3,000 lane miles of streets, and about 1,300 of those carry enough traffic or the type of traffic (transit and school buses) to qualify for de-icing.
Roads should improve with warmer weather.
“Warming temperatures starting Tuesday afternoon will foster much improvement,” he said. In the meantime, the city is responding to requests for treatment.
Temperatures are expected to reach the 30s in eastern Nebraska on Tuesday. Wednesday will bring another chance of snow.
Photos: Winter system hits Omaha on Friday, Jan. 17