Published Monday
December 18, 2000 

Snow, Wind Again Alter Schedules


For the second week in a row, the Omaha area awoke Monday to find a wintry mess outside that forced schools to close, made travel difficult and left people wondering when the snow would end. 

By 10 a.m., between 5 and 7 inches of new snow had fallen in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, with another inch or two possible before the snow ended, weather experts said. 
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With schools cancelled, these kids played in their neighborhood playground near 33rd and Francis Streets.

But even after the snowflakes stop falling, high winds will cause problems with blowing and drifting snow as well as dangerously cold wind chills through Monday night, said Josh Boustead, a forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Valley. 

Tuesday should bring a reprieve from the snow and wind, but highs should reach only the midteens, Boustead said. And another arctic blast, with a chance for snow, is expected Wednesday. 

Monday's snow meant a day off for students across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa; slow driving for motorists and delayed flights for airline passengers; and another hard day for snowplow drivers who already had been working for a solid week. 

The blowing snow and frigid wind chills forced school officials in Omaha, Millard and Council Bluffs - as well as nearly every school district in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa - to cancel classes Monday. 

While the school closings seemed to cut down on the volume of traffic, the blowing snow still made travel difficult and contributed to some accidents. 

At rush hour Monday, the northbound Kennedy Freeway was closed after a small truck went under the rear of a semitrailer truck near L Street. Police said the stretch north from Q Street was closed for about a hour while tow trucks removed the vehicles. 

Omaha police said one person received minor injuries but was not hospitalized. 

In southeast Nebraska, several roads were considered impassable, including Nebraska Highways 92 and 109 in Saunders County, where state snowplow crews gave up about 9:30 a.m. due to poor visibility. 

"Until the winds stop, they say they can't see where they're going," said Colleen Peavey, a dispatcher at the Saunders County Sheriff's Office in Wahoo. 

Several cars were in the ditches and median along the U.S. Highway 77 expressway from Beatrice to Lincoln, said Gage County Deputy Sheriff Anna White. 

"It's difficult to get around in anything other than a four-wheel-drive at this point," she said. 

Eppley Airfield reported no flights canceled, but departures might run late. Brad Livingston, director of operations, said that was because de-icing was required as each flight landed. 

Livingston said flights into the Chicago area again were running behind and suggested anyone flying east call ahead to check about their destination. 

Omaha and Sarpy and Douglas Counties reported their plows were on the streets but were having troubles battling the blowing snow. 

Tom McDonald, the City of Omaha's street-maintenance superintendent, said about 150 snowplows were on the streets Monday morning. The city was plowing mainly major streets as of midmorning. 

Depending on when the snow and wind stop, he said, city crews would try to begin to move into residential areas this afternoon. 

"Hopefully overnight, we'll be into a lot of them," McDonald said. 

Norm Jackman, an Omaha city engineer, said Deffenbaugh Industries collected trash Monday but collected recyclables in less than half the neighborhoods. 

The recyclables that normally are picked up on Monday should be picked up Tuesday and Wednesday, Jackman said. 

Any garbage-collection delays should be remedied by Tuesday evening, he said. 

Jackman said the city expected Deffenbaugh to be completely back on schedule Wednesday night. 

With Monday's snow, many places have between 12 and 16 inches of snow on the ground - more snow than fell during all of last winter, weather experts said. 

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