Feb. 4, 2015: Heavy Snow...Mainly Near and North of I-80 in Nebraska

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February 4, 2015

Heavy Snow Falls Across Portions of
Nebraska - Mainly Near and
North of Interstate 80

To the right is a National Weather Service Radar loop, valid from
12:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday, February 4th.

The NWS Hastings coverage area is located within the orange outlined area labeled "GID", with the Interstate highways in red.

(Click Radar Loop To Enlarge)

Event Summary:

Only a few days after the first "major" winter storm of the season struck much of the 30-county NWS Hastings coverage area over the weekend of Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2015, a somewhat different type of snow storm targeted parts of the area (mainly near and north of Interstate 80) during the morning hours of Wednesday, Feb 4th. Unlike the longer-lasting storm the preceding weekend, this one was a "quick-hitter", with most affected areas observing snow for no more than 6-7 hours. However, snow fell rather intensely at times, and combined with sustained north winds of generally 20-25 MPH with gusts to around 35 MPH, this resulted in a treacherous morning commute and prompted numerous school closures. 

As one can see in the snowfall graphic below, there was a wide range in snow totals across the local area. Generally speaking, the highest amounts in the 4-8" range (and locally higher) targeted a roughly 30-mile wide corridor running from the Sherman County area in the northwest, then east-southeast through the St. Paul, Grand Island, Central City, Aurora, Osceola and York areas. Within the heart of this band, a few of the highest official snow totals featured 8.7" four miles north of Aurora, 8.2" at Ravenna and 6.1" at Grand Island airport. Just outside this main band to its north and south, there was a fairly sharp drop-off in snow amounts, with places such as Ord (north of the band) reporting 3.0" while just to the south of the band the Hastings NWS office only tallied 1.7". Even farther south, most locations near and especially south of the Nebraska-Kansas border received well-under 1", and in many cases hardly even a dusting. 

Breaking down event timing, this generally west-to-east oriented snow band first came to life within counties along and north of I-80 between 1-3 AM, and then steadily increased in intensity through daybreak. Generally between 7-9 AM, the band began sinking southward across the Highway 6 corridor and toward the Kansas border, while gradually diminishing in intensity and ending from north-to-south and also from west-to-east. By 11 AM, the vast majority of the local area was snow-free, with only a narrow, fading area of light snow and flurries near and south of the state line.

Forecast-wise, things lived up to expectations quite well. Although a few of the highest amounts in excess of 6" were not explicitly advertised 12-24 hours before the event, it was fully expected that a fairly narrow corridor of 2-5" would materialize across South Central Nebraska, with locally higher amounts possible. The timing of the onset and ending of snowfall was also very well forecast, and the initial Winter Weather Advisory issued by NWS Hastings at 342 AM Feb. 3rd (roughly 24 hours in advance) stated: "Heaviest snow will be during the morning commute. Travel will be difficult and the visibility will be reduced by snow and blowing snow." 


Snowfall Map/Table:

Below is a graphic which depicts APPROXIMATE STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL across the region Feb. 4th. Please note: although this image reflects actual observed measurements at various points, it is subject to some error due to interpolation/smoothing between points. However, it clearly shows the fairly-narrow nature of the heaviest snow band.  

 
Storm total snowfall (click for larger version)



  

Below is a table which shows some of the most noteworthy STORM TOTAL snowfall reports received from across the local NWS Hastings 30-county coverage area on Feb. 4th, from official NWS cooperative observers...

Location (miles from town) Snowfall (Inches)
4 N Aurora 8.7
Ravenna 8.2
Grand Island Central Nebraska Regional Airport 6.1
St. Paul 6.0
Osceola 5.7
3 N York 5.0
Bradshaw 5.0
3 NE Shelby 4.6
Central City 4.5
Geneva 4.0
Ord 3.0
Kearney Airport 3.0
Clay Center 3.0
6 ESE Clay Center 2.9
Hebron 2.8
Greeley 2.5
NWS Hastings Office (4 N Hastings) 1.7 (locally higher in town)

 

This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.



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