It’s going to be another quiet day in the region today, thanks to the blizzard that’s closed down all highways in the Panhandle, most city streets, and just about everything else..
The Chadron, Crawford, Hay Springs, Hemingford, Gordon-Rushville, and Sioux County school districts are all closed as are Chadron State College and Western Nebraska Community College.
Area courthouses, meal programs, libraries, government offices including post offices, the Chadron Medical Clinic, and nearly all businesses remain closed.
Chadron and Crawford remain under a Snow Emergency, Crawford until 8:00 tomorrow morning and Chadron until noon tomorrow, that keeps parked vehicles and trailers off designated snow routes.
All highways in the Panhandle have been closed since 2:00 yesterday afternoon. State Dept of Transportation District 5 Operations and Maintenance Manager John Lutz could offer no solid estimates at that time when roads might reopen.
Lutz said decisions on reopening roads will be made on a case-by-case basis, but that he didn’t expect any roads to reopen until at least sometime today – if then.
While snow, ice, and drifts are a major part of the problem, especially in some areas, he said the biggest challenge at this time is blowing snow reducing visibility to dangerous levels that led to snowplows being called in for extended periods.
Lutz also said that reinforcements were on the way with plows, blowers, and trucks coming from other parts of the state that haven’t been hit quite as hard. Their arrival, though, also depends on conditions improving.
Department Director John Selmer told a group of state lawmakers yesterday that his agency is short about 250 workers licensed to drive snowplows, which led to the plan for temporary help to come to the Panhandle.
Selmer told the Nebraska Examiner that the state’s “fortunate” this storm is only hitting the western part of the state, allowing crews in unaffected areas to be moved out to help..