Powerful winter storms have roiled the outset of the nation’s busiest travel holiday, but a respite — of sorts — is coming before another system strikes at the end of the week.

About 30% of flights at Denver International Airport were canceled Monday night into Tuesday as about a foot of snow fell in the region.

In the northwestern U.S., winds of 70 to 85 mph accompanied Tuesday’s landfall of a bomb cyclone that downed trees and ushered in heavy snow.

In Nebraska, the first major winter storm of the season sharply curtailed travel on Interstate 80.

Most of the state’s roads were partially to fully covered with snow, and only far southeast Nebraska’s roads were clear.

Freezing rain, heavy snow, strong winds and reduced visibility were among the conditions drivers faced, according to the National Weather Service.

Crews from the Nebraska Department of Transportation were out in force clearing roads across the state. However, as night fell and winds picked up, some had to pull off the road due to poor visibility.

In Lincoln, high school football players and fans alike withstood memorable, miserable weather to determine state champions for three classes. Biting winds and heavy, wet snow made for tough playing conditions.

In Omaha, thunder and lightning punctuated the storm Tuesday evening, producing “thundersnow.” Overnight winds were expected to gust between 40 and 50 mph as a low pressure system passed by.

Also in Omaha, emergency repairs were done to the center lane of eastbound Interstate 80 after an expansion joint ruptured between 32nd and 36th Streets, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

The Omaha metro area sat along the rain/snow line, which meant that snowfall totals were expected to vary widely by Wednesday morning, said Brian Barjenbruch, a weather service meteorologist.

The City of Omaha deployed about 100 plows and other pieces of equipment to clear roads, said Austin Rowser, street maintenance engineer. The city didn’t put down brine ahead of the storm because the rain would have diluted it, he said. Intermittent messy weather is forecast through the weekend, so crews are scheduled to work through the holidays, he said.

“We’re going to watch to see what happens,” he said.

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Wednesday could bring some sunshine in the afternoon, and winds are forecast to die down, Barjenbruch said.

Snowfall could return Thursday and rain on Friday, he said.

Strong winds and a rain-snow mix are forecast for this weekend in the Omaha area as the remnants of the West Coast bomb cyclone move through the region, said Danielle Knittle, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc.

The powerful storm isn’t expected to generate flooding, as occurred in March when another bomb cyclone unleashed Nebraska’s costliest disaster on record, she said. However, it will affect weather across the country.

“It’s a large, complex system that will fade as it moves over the Rockies and come back to life, so to speak, as it moves over the Plains,” she said. The hallmark, she said, will be the winds.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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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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