Major Storm Blasts Panhandle – Except Chadron; Widespread Outages Slowly Recovering


     While the Chadron area received a couple inches of snow over the weekend with winds in the upper 30s, the rest of the Panhandle got blasted hard. 

    National Weather Service Meteorologist Brandon Wills of Cheyenne says the Harrison area and the Pine Ridge south of Chadron received 10+” of snow with wind gusts well over 40 mph. Hwy 20 was closed west of Crawford as of 2:00 am today..

    Things were worse farther south. The southern Panhandle had blizzard conditions that closed Interstate 80 and Hwy 30 west of Big Springs and Hwy 71 south of Gering  much of Sat and Sun. On top of that, ice accumulations as much as 5” combined with winds over 70 mph led to widespread power outages from Scottsbluff-Gering to Sidney.

     In addition to power lines going down, government and utility officials estimate over 600 utility poles, primarily from the Chimney Rock and Roosevelt Public Power Districts were damaged or destroyed with many – if not most – needing to be replaced

      Most, if not all, customers in the Scottsbluff-Gering area had power back by last night, but Chimney Rock Public Power said yesterday that service south and west of McGrew could be without electricity until tomorrow or Wednesday. The Bridgeport and Bayard areas also still had outages last night

      With blizzard warnings in effect across the southern Panhandle until 6:00 am, the Gering, Bridgeport, Bayard, Potter-Dix, and Lusk schools all canceled classes while Sioux County Schools started 2 hours late and Sidney suspended all rural bus service today. 

      Region 22 Emergency Management has requested an emergency declaration from Governor Jim Pillen, which would make additional state resources available and allow cities, counties and others to recoup costs incurred in response.

     Chimney Rock PPD has requested mutual aid from other power districts with teams expected to start arriving today to help with repairs.