Nebraska has been spared successive winter storms, a development that brings a mixture of relief and disappointment to a state still blanketed with last week's snow.
The second of two storms to strike the region is crossing just to the south, walloping Kansas and Missouri with blizzard conditions. A third storm system appears to be fizzling, according to Tom Kines, meteorologist with the AccuWeather Inc., The World-Herald's private weather consultant.
Blizzard and winter storm warnings have been issued for a wide swath of the Plains from northern Texas, across Kansas into Missouri and then toward Chicago.
AccuWeather's senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said this second storm will bring travel to a standstill in the affected region.
A week ago, it appeared as if Nebraska might be in the path for this second storm with the intriguing possibility that a third one was on its heels.
Had that happened, it would have brought Omaha its most intense winter weather since December 2009, when 24.6 inches fell, setting the stage for a record string of days — 88 — with at least an inch of snow on the ground.
Southern Nebraska, including the Lincoln and Omaha metro areas, could get some snow – maybe a couple inches – from this second system as it moves across the country through Tuesday, according to Tom Kines, AccuWeather meteorologist. Light snow is forecast to fall intermittently in the Omaha area today into early Wednesday.
Kines said the storm track shifted south as the jet stream dropped farther south, he said. The jet stream's dip south can have a big impact on communities.
“A couple hundred miles difference in the jet stream can be the difference between a foot of snow and very little snow,” he said.
Kines said the third storm that had appeared to be developing has not yet moved ashore, but it's likely to enter the northwest U.S., cross the Rockies and then dive southeastward into Texas before heading out into the Gulf of Mexico.
“There's not going to be a lot of moisture with this system as it comes out of the Rockies. It might be more of a cloud producer,” he said. “It won't be affecting our weather.”
Once the second system passes through, “there should be several days of quiet weather,” Kines said. “It looks like, for whatever reason, the southern Plains states are getting the brunt of the storms this winter.”
Like Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas have suffered substantially from drought. These back-to-back winter storms are extracting a price, in terms of disruption, but also are delivering a reward: white gold.
“The snow will slowly melt and seep into the ground in the coming days and weeks,” said Sosnowski, of AccuWeather. And that will provide much-needed moisture.
But a bit of calm after the storm sounds good to city and state employees, who have been working since Thursday to clear an average of 8 inches of snow across the Omaha metropolitan area.
Scott McIntyre, who heads Omaha's snow removal operation, said crews were on 24-hour shifts through noon Saturday. About 30 employees began pre-treating the streets at 6 p.m. Sunday for the next snow.
McIntyre said the department probably will return to 24-hour shifts for three days, until this next storm system moves through.
“Things went real well for this last storm, McIntyre said, “but there's always a street that gets missed or a few residents that would like things done a little differently.”
He said he was aware of some cars being ticketed for not complying with parking guidelines, but he didn't have a number.
“A lot of people are making the effort to comply with the plan, and that's good,” McIntyre said. “It may take several more of these events before everyone is in compliance.”
Heading into March, he said, the City of Omaha has plenty of sand, gravel and brine for clearing streets. There have been no major breakdowns, he said, and crews are rested.
“For the end of February, we're doing fine. We have plenty of all the things we need to get the job done.”
To phone the city's snow removal hotline, dial 402-444-4919.
World-Herald staff writer Kevin Cole contributed to this report.