All highways in Antelope County are impassable due to flooding, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and are not to be traveled on.
According to the Antelope County Sheriff's Department, drivers are urged not to go around any barriers, which are located on the edge of the communities. Not only are parts of highways still under water, there are many spots were the highways are breaking apart.
It is snowing across the county and is expected to snow until 8 p.m. Wind gusts are about 55 mph at this time.
Heavy mixed precipitation and high winds are expected as a winter weather warning has been issued for Antelope County from 5 a.m. Thursday, March 14, to 1 a.m. Friday, March 15.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Antelope County. Heavy mixed precipitation is expected with total snow accumulations of 1 to 4 inches and ice accumulations of a light glaze expected. Winds could gust as high as 60 mph. Some whiteout conditions may occur and travel is not recommended.
Plan on slippery road conditions. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning and evening commutes. Strong winds could cause significant damage to trees and power lines.
Rain will change to snow late tonight and continue Thursday. Winds will become northwest and increase to 25 to 40 mph with gusts up to 55 to 60 mph possible.
Massive flooding wreaked havoc on Antelope County on Wednesday, leading to every highway and road in the county being closed.
Due to the travel ban, fire departments across the county are stopping traffic on the edges of the communities. A shelter has been set up at the Neligh Fire Hall for those who cannot return home.
Antelope County Emergency Manager Bob Moore said the Elkhorn River ice jam located east of the Singing Bridge and 519 Bridge between Clearwater and Neligh has broken apart and water has crested in Clearwater.
"There was an 18-inch water surge that followed the jam," Moore said Saturday afternoon while monitoring the Highway 275 bridge between Neligh and Oakdale. "We can see ice chunks going through occasionally and the river has risen a bit, but it looks like the jam has made it safely through."
Moore said Clearwater and other places downstream along the river will see water receding soon.
County officials are advising absolutely no travel on county roads in Antelope County due to massive flooding. The schools have been notified that travel on rural roads is not advised. The schools called by county officials were Clearwater, Orchard, Ewing, Plainview, Creighton, Elkhorn Valley, Elgin, Pope John and Neligh-Oakdale. Officials have advised no bus travel on rural roads and rural bus routes will not be running in the county.
According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, water is over the highway east of Tilden, west of Elgin on HWY 70 and the Orchard Road. Roads are closed all across the county due to the flooding. Officials advise not to drive through the water.
On Tuesday, Governor Pete Ricketts in consultation with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) issued an emergency declaration effective March 12, 2019, in anticipation of severe weather issues set to impact the state. The emergency declaration will allow NEMA and other state agencies to address potential impacts from the impending severe winter storm expected to affect the Panhandle area, as well as anticipated flooding across other areas of the state.
“Nebraska has experienced a significant amount of severe weather and precipitation over the last couple of months,” said Governor Ricketts. “Nebraskans should watch the forecast closely in the coming days, and be prepared for severe weather events in conjunction with potential historic flooding. As Nebraskans know, conditions can change quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared.”
The action taken by Governor Ricketts will allow NEMA to coordinate response and recovery activities with local jurisdictions, state agency partners, and a variety of other stakeholder organizations. The emergency declaration allows local jurisdictions who require assistance with capabilities and resources to direct requests for assistance to the State of Nebraska.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for the Panhandle region in anticipation of a major winter weather system entering the state. This storm will be dangerous and life-threatening with significant impact on transportation, utilities and agricultural producers. Snowfall amounts in excess of 18 to 24 inches are possible and 50-60 miles per hour winds will make travel difficult to impossible.
Motorists are urged to exercise care and travel is not recommended as the winter storm system enters the state. Residents should anticipate rapidly changing winter conditions with this storm system. The Governor’s Office urges Nebraska residents and agricultural producers to take precautionary measures to protect life and property.
In addition, flooding will be a primary concern in many areas of the state due to warmer temperatures generating runoff from snowmelt. While this storm system is expected to deliver record levels of snow in the Panhandle it is expected to generate 1-3 inches of rainfall in the eastern portions of Nebraska. Frozen ground and high soil saturation levels will allow snowmelt and precipitation to runoff into rivers and streams which are currently frozen. Significant flooding is possible along the Loup, Platte, Elkhorn, and Missouri Rivers. Ice jams in several locations may likely exacerbate flooding.
The Governor’s Office has authorized NEMA to implement ice dusting operations on the Loup and Platte Rivers when conditions permit. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has issued a permit to conduct this operation once weather conditions change. If feasible, NEMA will commence operations as early as Friday. The agency will pre-position coal ash material at the airports in Columbus and Wahoo to facilitate the aerial application of the material on river ice. A private aerial applicator will apply the material at the direction and oversight of NEMA and local jurisdictions.
The agency is also working with a variety of partners including the United States Army Corps of Engineers to stage sandbagging supplies associated with flood fighting measures directed at the local level.
The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) at NEMA will begin a partial activation involving Emergency Support Function (ESF) Coordinators representing partner agencies. The SEOC will assist local jurisdictions with technical advice associated with response measures and provide assistance with the coordination of needed resources.
The FEMA Region VII Watch Center located in Kansas City, Missouri will monitor weather issues and provide assistance to states as this storm system moves through the region. The Governor’s Office has authorized state agencies to pre-position resources or personnel deemed appropriate to assist local jurisdictions with emergency response issues.
The Nebraska State Patrol, the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and the Nebraska National Guard will be coordinating personnel and equipment needed to address these activities. NEMA strongly encourages individuals or families with functional needs to reach out to their local officials in advance of the storm system reaching their area. This will permit local officials to plan appropriately and identify the resources needed to provide assistance.
Northeast Nebraska is expected to change from rain to snow quickly, resulting in a flash blizzard as wind gusts up to 60 mph. Temperatures are expected to reach freezing between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., making the morning commute dangerous, according to the National Weather Service.
Total snow accumulations of 2-5 inches is possible with near whiteout conditions developing through Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Expect slippery road conditions. Blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.
Low line flooding is being reported all across Antelope County, according to Antelope County Superintendent Casey Dittrich. Antelope County is in a flood watch.
Dittrich said he's received reports of flooding and water across roads in all townships. Due to the vast amount of flooding, the county will not be able to flag all roadways with water crossing.
"People need to be cautious when driving because there's flooding all over the county," Dittrich said.
He said county officials are aware of the issue, and residents do not need to call to report water of the roads.
A flood watch remains in effect from late Tuesday night through Wednesday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
The flood watch continues for portions of Iowa and Nebraska, including Antelope, Boone, Burt, Butler, Cass, Cedar, Colfax, Cuming, Dodge, Douglas, Gage, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lancaster, Madison, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Pierce, Platte, Richardson, Saline, Sarpy, Saunders, Seward, Stanton, Thurston, Washington, and Wayne.
From late Tuesday night through Wednesday evening, a strong storm will bring warming temperatures and 1 to 3 inches of rain to the region during the middle of the week. This will result in an increased risk of river flooding, due to the unusual combination of heavy rain, snowmelt, saturated or frozen soils, and thick ice cover on area rivers.
Significant and rapid river level increases are possible due to runoff or localized ice jams. According to the NWS, anyone with interests along or near area rivers should continue to monitor the forecast and river levels closely.
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