THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN OMAHA HAS ISSUED A * SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR KNOX COUNTY IN NORTHEASTERN NEBRASKA... * UNTIL 1100 AM CDT. * AT 1024 AM CDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED 9 MILES NORTHEAST OF ORCHARD, OR 27 MILES EAST OF O'NEILL, MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 40 MPH. HAZARD...60 MPH WIND GUSTS AND HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL. SOURCE...RADAR INDICATED. IMPACT...HAIL DAMAGE TO VEHICLES IS EXPECTED. EXPECT WIND DAMAGE TO ROOFS, SIDING, AND TREES. * LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE... PLAINVIEW, CREIGHTON, BRUNSWICK, ROYAL, THE HIGHWAY 14 AND 59 JUNCTION AND ASHFALL FOSSIL BEDS STATE HISTORICAL PARK. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A BUILDING. && HAIL...1.25IN WIND...60MPH
A blizzard warning has been issued in the area due to the snow and high wind gusts predicted the next two days, according to the National Weather Service of Omaha/Valley.
Antelope and Knox counties are included in the blizzard warning, which remains in effect from 1 a.m. Thursday to 7 p.m. Friday. The NWS predicts total snow accumulations of 3 to 11 inches and ice accumulations of around .1 inch with winds gusting as high as 40 mph, leading to whiteout conditions and making travel dangerous.
"Travel could be very difficult," the NWS states. "Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute."
For the latest road conditions, call 5 1 1.
A winter storm watch has been issued and Northeast Nebraska may be in for some heavy snow on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service cautions that blizzard conditions are possible and snow accumulations of up 10 inches are possible in Antelope, Knox and Cedar counties. This winter storm watch is in effect from Wednesday evening through Friday morning.
"A thrust of cold air from the north will initiate precipitation change from rain to snow across northeast Nebraska late Wednesday evening," the weather service states. "As of now it appears the the bulk of snow accumulations will occur over Thursday through Thursday night. In addition to this, northwest winds are expected to gusts around 45 mph, resulting near white out conditions Thursday afternoon and evening."
In addition, the weather service warns that "travel could be very difficult to impossible."
"Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches."
Although Hidden Timber Dam broke Saturday morning near Mission, South Dakota, but officials said they do not anticipate the extra water impacting the Village of Niobrara.
Nebraska Department of Transportation officials said they are monitoring the Niobrara River and will notify residents of change. However, officials said the river has receded in the last week and can withstand the increase from to the Hidden Timber Dam.
A hay drive is going on today at the Verdigre Stockyard and Zim Metal parking lot to benefit Willard, Denise, and Elvira Ruzicka who are in dire need of assistance feeding their livestock.
Those with hay bales, regardless of the number, are asked to bring them today. Donations of feed, salt blocks, tubs, medicine or mineral can be taken to the Verdigre Stockyard parking lot.
For a monetary donation, click here.
For more information on the Ruzicka's story, click here.
Giant slabs of ice ripped through their house Thursday, leaving a trail of destruction from the mighty Niobrara River.
A five-generation farmstead, Willard and Denise Ruzicka of Verdigre, along with their son Anthony, are struggling to know where to turn and what to do now that their livelihood — not just their home and their sister's home — is gone after catastrophic flooding. Elvira Ruzicka's home was also destroyed.
“To see grown men crying like this,” friend Lori Knigge said. “This whole thing just breaks my heart. It’s devastating. The are a five-generation farm with no insurance. The whole places is destroyed. They need help.”
Friends of Ruzicka family, like Lori Knigge and Steve Kreycik, are trying to help the Ruzickas. Neighbors helping neighbors is happening all across Nebraska, but for farmers and ranchers, this tragedy runs deeper than structural loss as they try to find feed for their livestock.
With bridges out across the Niobrara River, Knigge said residents can’t get medical treatment, including chemotherapy medication for cancer. She said three-quarters of a mile of ice bergs remained Friday leading to the Pischiville bridge, one of just a handful of bridges left.
“We need heavy equipment. Back hoes or an excavator with a thumb,” she said. “We have a neighbor with a CAT moving on tracks, trying to open the road, but there’s flood water behind him. He’s trying to keep the flooding back and trying to get the water to go around. It’s nothing but ice to the whole approach of the bridge.”
Kreycik said the Ruzicka family made it out of the farm before the surge hit after the Spencer Dam broke, but it was close.
“Willard didn’t want to leave. This was his home, his livelihood,” Kreycik said. “This is a good family, and they need help from people.”
With the water from Spencer came more icebergs, Knigge said they ripped holes through the house, pushing mounds of dirt inside. Ice was left on countertops. Outbuildings were moved and destroyed. To see the devastation, she said, is simply unimaginable.
If that damage wasn’t terrible enough, word came after the surge that another was on its way. That’s when Ruzicka asked Knigge to photograph the damage — in case there was more and no even their destroyed home would be remain.
“When we thought another surge was coming, I’ve never been so scared in my life,” Knigge said through tears. “They wanted me to take pictures to have them, but we didn’t know if the second wall was coming. I was so scared. They are absolutely devastated and broken. This is all they’ve known their whole lives.
The Ruzicka family is trying to feed their livestock and keep that livelihood intact with little time and resources to worry about the home and belongings they no longer have. It’s unclear if they will receive federal support since President Trump has yet to name this a federal disaster.
But Knigge and Kreycik — and countless others from the area — are adamant that the Ruzicka family need help and are asking the public to donate time and manpower to help this family.
“We need manpower,” she said. “Man power and heavy equipment. And feed. The silage is down to an eighth of what it was before the flood, so we need feed for the livestock. Any help we can get will be appreciated.”
To donate to the family, click here.
The residents along the Niobrara River are being told to evacuate, according to the Knox County Sheriff's Department.
"The Knox County Sheriff's Office has been advised that the Spencer Dam has been compromised. We are trying to contact everyone along the Niobrara River to evacuate them," according to officials.
The Niobrara and Verdigre Fire Departments are on stand by.
Northeast Nebraska is expected to change from rain to snow quickly, resulting in a flash blizzard as wind gusts up to 60 mph. Temperatures are expected to reach freezing between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., making the morning commute dangerous, according to the National Weather Service.
Total snow accumulations of 2-5 inches is possible with near whiteout conditions developing through Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Expect slippery road conditions. Blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.
Are you ready for more snow? The National Weather Service is reporting snowfall totals of "at least 4 inches" are expected with the pending storm.
A Winter Weather Advisory begins at 6 p.m. tonight and will last through 9 a.m. Wednesday. The NWS reports that snow could be heavy at times and new snow accumulation of up to 6 inches is possible tonight. Southeast winds of 6 to 11 mph are expected. The low temperatures will be around 11 degrees tonight.
Knox County's two-day totals are predicted to be anywhere from 4 to 8 inches.
Travel difficulties are expected due to this storm.
Due to the extreme weather temperatures, there will be NO SCHOOL tomorrow, January 30th, at Bloomfield Community Schools. All students, 7-12, must take home their computers for E-day assignment completion.