Snowstorm Burying Omaha; Des Moines Next

February 4, 2012; 3:55 AM ET
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Photo of messy morning commute in Denver, Colo., on Friday Feb. 3, 2012 from Heather Buchman.

A raging snowstorm which dropped over four feet of snow in parts of the Colorado Rockies will continue to produce snow from Omaha to Des Moines into this evening.

Roads and major highways were closed Friday from Colorado through western Kansas and Nebraska, including part of I-70 from Denver to the Kansas state line. Heavy snow has since developed farther east across Nebraska and western Iowa and this will persist into the evening hours before things taper off. Additional roads may close as a result.

Highways impacted by the expanding blinding snow and slippery conditions include I-29, I-35 and I-80.

The storm has already delivered between two and four feet of snow to some of the foothills west of Denver. Over part of the eastern Plains of Colorado, drifts of up to five feet were reported.

More than 600 flights had been canceled at Denver International Airport Friday in response to the blinding, heavy snow.

Snow will continue to streak northeastward followed by increasing winds, low visibility, large snow drifts and poor travel spreading from central and eastern Nebraska into the western half of Iowa.

Burlington, Denver and Sterling in Colorado and Grand Island, Kearney, McCook and North Platte in Nebraska were in the heart of the storm Friday. While the storm calmed down over Colorado Friday night, it will continue to pick up farther to the east over the central Plains into this evening.


This map shows snowfall forward from 6:00 a.m. Saturday to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, CST. A larger version of this map is available on the AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center.

Rain is in the process of changing to heavy, accumulating snow from west to east, reaching into eastern Nebraska and much of Iowa. In the swath from Omaha to Des Moines, the changeover to snow began Friday night. By this evening, over a half a foot of snow will be on the ground around Omaha and several inches around Des Moines.

In these areas of the lower central Plains, the first part of the snow will be more wet, but blowing and drifting snow will occur later in the storm with near-blizzard conditions as temperatures fall off and winds pick up.


Peak wind gusts from the storm.

A storm of this size, with energy and moisture available, has the potential to deliver the heaviest snow of the winter, especially in light of how the season has evolved for the central Plains.

The storm will stay south of most of the northern Plains, and a push of dry air should prevent the storm's moisture from reaching the Great Lakes region.

The snowstorm is forecast to stay north of Kansas City. However, motorists heading north along I-29 or I-35 will run into a mess over Nebraska and Iowa later tonight and Saturday.

The storm system will bring not only drenching rain to portions of the South Central states, but also severe thunderstorms, especially in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The snowstorm just goes to show how quickly the weather can change over the Plains. During Monday and Tuesday, temperatures soared into the 60s over much of the region.

A storm that hit on April 1, 1957, brought 17.3 inches of snow to Denver and is the 10th biggest snowstorm on record since 1946. The greatest snowstorm ever was 45.7 inches spanning Dec. 1-6, 1913.

According to the National Weather Service, the greatest 24-hour snowfall during February occurred during during the 27th and 28th in 1931, when a foot of snow fell. The greatest February snowstorm on record during February in Denver occurred spanning the 23rd to the 25th in 1912 and brought 14.2 inches.

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