Resents of the Nebraska Panhandle and Eastern Wyoming are being advised to stay home this Saturday as blizzard conditions worsen with the latest winter storm.
All highways in the Panhandle have been officially closed by Nebraska Department of Transportation District 5 officials with engineer Chris Ford saying 40 to 60 mph winds are causing zero visibility at times, and it’s not expected the roadways will be opened until mid-morning Sunday at the earliest. Scotts Bluff County Road crews were pulled in by noon due to the extreme conditions and are not expected to return to the roads until tomorrow. In southeastern Wyoming, nearly every highway is closed with one notable exception of Highway 26 between Lingle and the Nebraska State Line.
Circumstances are exacerbated by widespread and sporatic power outages over a large area. In Wyoming, service has been lost in much of Goshen and nearby counties, with Wyrulec saying the problem lies in the transmission system outside the company’s control. High West Energy says they currently have 600 customers without electricity, 250 of them in the Panhandle and another 200 in Laramie County.
Outages are becoming more widespread as power lines are whipped by high winds today following freezing drizzle, fog and several inches of snow that hit the area Friday and overnight.
In Nebraska, NPPD is reporting 130 without power east of Gering, 21 east of Minatare, 30 near Bridgeport and 70 in the Oshkosh/Lisco area, with scattered outages in Scottsbluff. Wheat Belt reports the loss of up to 70 poles, PREMA is indicating outages North of Scottsbluff, east of Lakeside, and in the Arthur and Hyannis areas. Roosevelt Public Power is reporting power loss in the Morrill area, while Chimney Rock PPD says they’re experiencing several outage areas.
Several utilities have said for safety of repair crews, those still in the field are being called in before sundown, as the weather conditions make repairs dangerous and nearly impossible. Officials say some customers could be without service for several days.
In certain cases, power companies have indicated problems stemming from high-voltage transmission lines that carry power supplied by WAPA, the Western Area Power Administration.