Experts urge Nebraskans to be prepared for strong winter storms
LINCOLN — The Nebraska State Patrol is urging motorists to be prepared for a winter storm that is projected to affect most of the state.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Nebraska counties throughout western, central, and northern Nebraska, which will take affect at 9 p.m. Monday.
Heavy snow and strong winds are expected to create hazardous travel conditions for portions of Interstate 80 and many other roadways.
“Thanksgiving week is a major travel period and this strong winter storm has the potential to make travel difficult,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “Drivers should plan ahead and adjust plans accordingly to make sure they reach their destinations safely.”
Motorists are encouraged to stay up to date on conditions and plan ahead as travel may become difficult or impossible in some areas. Nebraska 511 is the best resource to monitor road conditions and closures. Motorists can also view real time conditions with the Neb. Dept. of Transportation’s Plow Tracker system.
Troopers will be on the road to assist motorists who need help. Anyone in need of assistance can call *55 from a cell phone or 800-525-5555 to reach the NSP Highway Helpline.
With winter weather also comes the risk of freezing temperatures, high winds and snowfall.
And with those conditions brings the possibility of power outages – including having no power for homes and businesses for a period of time and downed power lines.
Being aware of the dangers of downed power lines remains important Nebraska Public Power District officials say.
High winds, heavy snow and ice build-up can cause power lines to break or falter.
“The snow looks light coming down and accumulates and gets heavier. It brings the branches down and they droop down on the lines,” said NPPD Distribution Supervisor Ray Boston. “That’s when a line can go down and cause an outage.”
Boston said NPPD does annual patrols of lines in retail communities and determines what trees need to be trimmed to avoid having an outage and hopefully eliminate any outages in the winter months.
But it is also important, according to Boston, that anytime someone sees a power line down on the ground they should stay clear of the area and notify their local public power provider immediately, who have trained personnel and will be able to remove the lines safely.
Winter storms can bring a few different threats to power lines including galloping, downed, and floating wires. Galloping wire, seen mainly around transmission lines, occur when high winds force two adjacent power lines to hit each other, which may cause an outage.
Floating wires consist of power lines that have been broken and are blowing in the wind or are not long enough to contact the ground.
If a powerline falls on a roadway, motorists should not try to drive over the line or move it from the roadway. This could result in serious injury.
If a power line were to fall on top of a driver’s vehicle, the occupants should remain inside, call for help, and wait for a trained professional lineman to remove the downed line.
NSP also issues the following reminders for motorists traveling in extreme weather:
· Always wear your seat belt and never drive faster than conditions allow.
· Blowing and drifting snow can reduce visibility. Travel only when necessary.
· If you must travel, use well-traveled routes and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Tell others your destination, your route, and when you will arrive.
· If you become stranded while traveling, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. Have a red flag or bandana to signal for help. Freezing temperatures can be life threatening.
· If a vehicle becomes stuck, run the motor sparingly and keep a window cracked to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide.
· Maintain a winter weather survival kit in your vehicle.