Published Friday

February 1, 2002 

Back with a vengeance: Snowfall's return harsh in Midlands 


EMERSON, Iowa - Tom Honeyman apparently didn't get the memo that kids are supposed to play in the snow - not work in it - when school is canceled for the day. 
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School might be canceled because of snow, but chores aren't. Bill Honeyman, 11, of rural Emerson, Iowa, walks through a feed bunk after scooping the snow out and feeding the cows. He was working with his father, Tom.

Braving snow that turned to sleet, Honeyman and his 11-year-old son, Bill, were out in the fields Thursday morning feeding about 70 cattle. Bill, red cheeks and all, was a willing worker as he shoveled snow out of feed bunks for his father. 

"Farm kids never get a day off because of the snow," Tom Honeyman said. 

The Honeymans can do the same today, as people across the Midlands try to go about their lives in the wake of the first major winter storm of the season, which was expected to dump up to a foot of snow across much of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. 

The storm was blamed for at least one fatal accident near Lincoln and may have contributed to the deaths of two other people as well. Numerous minor wrecks and fender benders also were reported. 

Ardene Muhleisen, 68, and his 66-year-old wife, Patty, of Milford were killed Wednesday night when their car went out of control on Interstate 80 about 10 miles west of Lincoln, crossed the median and collided with a semitrailer truck. 

No determination had been made on whether the storm caused two other fatal accidents, one on Interstate 80 near North Platte, Neb., and the other on Iowa Highway 141 in Crawford County. 

The accident near North Platte closed part of Interstate 80 for several hours Thursday morning. 

The Nebraska State Patrol said David L. Magnan, 53, of Shelburne, Vt., was killed when his car collided with a semitrailer truck driven by Kenneth Henson, 61, of Swanton, Ohio. 

Around 11:05 a.m., the eastbound semi crossed the median, went into the westbound lane and collided with Magnan's car. 

In Iowa, Mary Miller, 43, of Charter Oak, was killed when her car collided head-on with a semi driven by Thomas J. Kelly, 29. The crash happened about 7:30 a.m. Thursday between Denison and Charter Oak on Highway 141. 

The storm also stranded travelers across the Midlands on Thursday, closed schools and sent people scrambling for winter clothing and equipment. 

Between 6 and 8 inches of snow had fallen in southern and southeast Nebraska and western Iowa by Thursday afternoon, and several more inches of snow was expected, weather forecasters said. 

Northeast Nebraska was in store for an unwelcome surprise, forecasters said. An unexpected shift in the storm meant that the area could get 6 to 10 inches of snow, instead of 3 to 5 inches as previously forecast. 
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Threats of heavy snow, and advice to travel only if necessary, didn't stop people from going outdoors and hitting the roads. 

About the same time the Honeymans were feeding their herd, Donna Fae Johnson of Shenandoah, Iowa, stood on the side of U.S. Highway 59, watching a tow truck pull her car out of a 40-foot-deep ditch. 

Johnson was headed to work in Tabor, Iowa, late Wednesday when her car spun out, slid down an embankment and ended up precariously close to a telephone pole. 

However, it was only lightly damaged. 

"I don't remember what happened," Johnson said. "I was so scared. I thought I was going to roll." 

Johnson wasn't alone. Just a few feet up the highway from Johnson's car was Connie Escobedo's Ford Festiva. 

Escobedo lost control of her car late Wednesday while coming home from work. Her father borrowed a pickup to pull her out Thursday. 

"I hate this weather," Escobedo said. 

For the most part, officials said, drivers were taking it easy on the roads. 

"It's actually better than we anticipated for the first major storm," said Sgt. Gordy Anville of the Nebraska State Patrol. Interstate 80 in Nebraska is "perfectly travelable. You just have to take it slow." 

For some people, Thursday's snow was a blessing. 

Until Wednesday, Ron Keller was wondering what to do with the seven brand-new snow blowers collecting dust in his Falls City, Neb., hardware store. 

Now the blowers are gone, and so are dozens of snow shovels, gloves and winter jackets. 

"People thought they were going to get by without the stuff this year," Keller said. "This storm has really been a boost to our business." 

Forecasters had been talking about the storm since early Sunday, said Corey Mead, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Valley. The models used to predict weather did a better-than-average job with this storm, he said. 

The storm system that brought this snow is expected to move out of the area today. 

Skies are forecast to be partly cloudy today. Daytime highs are expected to be near 30 and above through the weekend. 

World-Herald staff writers Nancy Gaarder and Shannon Henson contributed to this report, which also includes material from the Associated Press.