Winter's back with a vengeance
BY SHANNON HENSON
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
A lengthy snowstorm coupled with gusting winds will
mean two things this morning:
Residential streets might not be cleared in time for rush hour.
Metro-area schools are closed again today.
Snowplow crews in the metro area found it hard to get ahead on street cleaning - especially since the winter's first major snowstorm lasted for more than a day and dumped from 7 to 10 inches of snow.
"We've had enough for the year," said Tom McDonald, a city street maintenance supervisor.
Omaha commuters can expect the major roads to be cleared this morning, he said. The same may not be true for residential streets, which the city's 160 plows might not have reached.
Plows were able to get into residential areas at times Thursday, McDonald said, only to have to head back to the major thoroughfares as fresh snow fell.
And did it fall.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Valley said 9.8 inches had fallen there by the time the storm ended late Thursday. At 32nd and Tucker Streets in Omaha's Florence area, 8.3 inches fell. Eppley Airfield was expected to have a total of about 7 inches.
Winds of up to 20 mph were expected overnight, further hindering snow removal.
The storm, which started Wednesday, was blamed for at least one fatal accident near Lincoln and might have contributed to the deaths of two others 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 about 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.
The eastbound semitrailer crossed the median, went into the westbound lane and collided with Magnan's car at about 11:05 a.m.
In Iowa, Mary Miller, 43, of Charter Oak, was killed when her car collided head-on with a semitrailer truck driven by Thomas J. Kelly, 29. The wreck happened about 7:30 a.m. Thursday between Denison and Charter Oak.
Threats of heavy snow, and advice to travel only if necessary, didn't stop people from heading outdoors.
Away from the huffing and puffing and grunting and groaning of snow shoveling and windshield scraping, sledders squealed with glee at Walnut Hill Park, 38th Street and Lafayette Avenue.
UNO student Tracey Wanek and sons Olin, 8, Eli, 5, and Nick, 4, glided down the park's steep slope on purple plastic discs.
They had rushed out and bought the circular sleds first thing Thursday morning.
Snowflakes settled on the family's pink cheeks as they hiked up the hill for another run. Olin offered a one-word commentary on the return of winter weather: 'Rocks.'
In Emerson, Iowa, Tom 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.
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."
Some using those shovels and snow blowers went a bit too far.
At University Hospital's emergency room in Omaha, doctors treated two people for muscle strains and one person for a broken wrist.
Afternoon and evening classes at Metro Community College were canceled. So were night classes at Creighton University.
The weather also was to blame, at least indirectly, for the cancellation of some classes at Bellevue University on Thursday.
A man dropping off his son at the campus lost control of his car on the slick streets and crashed into a gas line connected to the university's learning center.
The broken gas line forced school officials to evacuate the building. The building was later closed, and some classes canceled, while utility crews fixed the pipe.
Forecasters had been talking about the storm since early Sunday, said Corey Mead, a forecaster with the weather service office in Valley. The models used to predict weather did a better-than-average job with this storm, he said.
Snow totals were higher in other parts of the state, including 11.1 inches at Union, 11 inches in Wilber and Western, and 10 inches at Dorchester and Crete.
Skies are forecast to be partly cloudy today. Daytime highs are expected to be near 30 and above through the weekend.
There is a chance of light snow Monday.
World-Herald staff writers Chris Clayton, Veronica Rosman, Christopher Burbach and Nancy Gaarder contributed to this report.