Published Tuesday
December 12, 2000 

Morning Low Just Misses a Record 



Although a blast from the north frosted the metropolitan area with near-record cold Monday night, temperatures were expected to rebound into the normal range by Saturday. 

But the snow dumped Sunday and Monday - 8.3 inches at the National Weather Service station at Valley and 10.3 inches at Eppley Airfield - left some lingering problems Tuesday. 
click to enlarge  
Deffenbaugh employees Mike Mease, left, and Pierre Lewis struggle with an icy trach can Tuesday with temperatures at five below zero.

Some children were left waiting on the curb for the school buses in the Omaha School District after bus drivers didn't show up for work. 

As of midmorning, Omaha street crews were plowing streets they had missed, responding to complaints and going back to streets where numerous parked cars had made it hard to plow. 

But Tom McDonald, Omaha street-maintenance superintendent, said he hoped his crews would be finished plowing residential streets by sometime this evening. 

"Considering the cold, things have gone pretty good," McDonald said. 

Omaha police reported the accident rate Tuesday as larger than average but not as bad as Monday. In the case of minor fender benders, they were still instructing motorists to exchange driver and insurance information. 

Two Omaha homeless shelters also were busier than usual. The Open Door Mission had 40 more single men Monday night than it did the same time a week ago, said Pastor Bob Timberlake, the shelter's president and chief executive officer. 

Paul Koch, director of the Siena-Francis House in Omaha, said the shelter was continuing to accept guests even though it had about 50 more than its capacity. 

"We're going to take people in even if they have to sleep on the floor or in a chair," Koch said. "We're not going to turn anybody out. They're going to freeze to death in this weather." 

The low overnight was 9 below zero at Eppley Airfield and 11 below at Valley. Those lows just missed the record low for Dec. 12 of 12 below, as measured at Eppley. On Sunday night, the low was 3 below, short of the record low of 6 below for that date. 

But the temperatures both day and night have been running 20 to 30 degrees below normal for this time of the year. Normal highs are in the mid-30s and lows usually are in the upper teens. 

The unseasonably low temperatures have been combined in many cases with strong winds to produce even more bitter wind chills. 

"Anytime you're almost 30 degrees below normal, that's pretty significant," said Cathy Zapotocny, a weather service meteorologist in Valley. 

The snow on the ground also was expected to hinder any warm-ups, which, in turn, could mean the white stuff will be around for some time. 

"I don't want to guarantee a white Christmas," Zapotocny said, "but it's looking pretty good." 

The cold hasn't been limited to the metropolitan area, either. Alliance and Chadron were Nebraska's coldest spots Monday night with lows of 24 below. 

Cold nationally has prompted concerns about rising natural gas prices. 

The Metropolitan Utilities District already has purchased its gas supplies for December, so gas prices will remain the same for the rest of the month, said Jerry Radek, MUD's general manager. 

The utility has yet to purchase gas for January, however, and MUD officials don't yet know what those prices are likely to be. The utility plans to use gas in storage, which was purchased at a lower price earlier this year, to help offset prices during January. 

A chance of light snow was expected Tuesday night with lows of 5 to 10 degrees. The chance of snow was expected to continue Wednesday, with highs of 15 to 20. Temperatures were expected to warm slightly by Saturday, bringing highs in the 30s. 

World-Herald staff writers Angie Brunkow, Rick Ruggles, James Ivey, Jake Bleed and Todd von Kampen contributed to this report.