OMAHA, Neb. – A major winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the middle of the country while another system blanketed areas of the Southwest, disrupting travel for a second consecutive day Tuesday and shuttering many schools.
Several coronavirus testing sites closed Monday and Tuesday in Nebraska and Iowa, as both states saw 12 to 15 inches (30.5 to 38.1 centimeters) of snow in places. At least 4 inches (10 centimeters) of snow was expected through Tuesday across most of an area stretching from central Kansas northeast to Chicago and southern Michigan.
National Weather Service meteorologist Taylor Nicolaisen, who is based near Omaha, said up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) was reported in spots between York, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa. He said it's uncommon for the region to get more than a foot of snow from a single storm, and it has been decades since some cities saw this much.
“A lot of people tend to misremember snow events — especially from when you were a kid. Everything felt like a foot of snow when you were a kid,” Nicolaisen said. “The snow drifts were literally higher than your head when you were a kid, but that’s because you were 2 1/2 feet tall.”
The storm made travel treacherous in places as wind-whipped snow piled up. Interstates were temporarily closed in western Nebraska and in Wisconsin near Milwaukee because of crashes, and scores of flights were canceled at airports across the region. Officials urged drivers to stay off the roads.
In Wisconsin, the weather service predicted up to 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) of snow could fall in the Milwaukee area, with the highest totals along Lake Michigan.
Wind gusts of 15 mph (24 kph) to 25 mph (40 kph) were reported across southern Wisconsin, creating drifting snow, reduced visibilities and complicating snow removal efforts, said Andy Boxell, a meteorologist with the weather service’s office in Sullivan, Wisconsin.
In the Chicago area, more than 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) had already fallen by Tuesday afternoon and forecasters predicted up to 8 inches (20.3 centimeters) or more would fall in some areas before the storm ended Tuesday evening.