February 1, 2015 Eastern Nebraska Blizzard

I usually don't get excited over 40 mph winds with snow, but considering we actually had a good snow depth with it, I was interested.  I knew exactly where to go.  Drove over into IA into the Missouri River flood plain.  Flat and wide open. 

This was some seriously wet snow when it came down.  Even after all the wind, a good chunk of the trees have that crazy snow caked look still.  What seemed to go down on this one, was it just got worse and worse, not because of wind so much as the wind slowly picking away the top parts of the snow and drying out some of it.  I sat along this road for a few hours, waiting on the wind and thinking about this.  Thought what it really needed was to do just that, get some of the stuff on top up and drying out in the much colder air now.  The wind never changed much but by the time I drove back to Nebraska it was just a lot different on highway 30.  Well the other thing of course would be the ditches having time to fill up, so it blows free.  But it was more to do with some of the snow drying out. 

Nearby farm trying to white out from view. 

There's a road here.  I know this road well.  Even so, as I pulled onto it, I stopped and thought, yeah ok where is it.  You had a couple choices, judge off the line of poles or try to occasionally see taller grass on the edge getting up out of the snow.  Just no real sign of it as you tried to drive on it.  The white out of blowing snow just made sure to thoroughly hide it from view.

To think this was just a 40 mph wind event.  Snow depth made a huge difference.  We were around 9 inches.  Say it was 4 instead.  It would take lot longer to fill up ditches and whatnot first.  And get slowed up by some old corn stalks sticking up.  Been out on some 60mph ones that you lose visibility but since there was only 2 inches of snow, you could at least see the gravel road looking down close to the hood.  This felt like you were driving on top of dense fog.

Looking east down this road.  Guessing how far left the road was. 

Another shot looking back west. 

I leave the road I'd sat on for far too long and drive around a little bit before heading back home. 

Losing mr pivot.

Ok, so as I drive back to Blair I wonder why the visibility was so lame on highway 30 now.  Even where I seemed free of blowing snow it looked like fog visibility restrictions.  I thought, it must be blowing like mad north of town on the bottoms on the west side of the Missouri.  Something was up for sure.  I knew it wasn't fog exactly.  And I knew it didn't look like that where I'd come from and this was in the more sheltered area/town.  What it quickly reminded me of, as I tried to sort out what was happening, was the spray of misty snow on the sheltered side of the car the last few hours.  It was far easier to keep the lenses clear out in the wind than it was on the calm side of the car.  That's what I thought was happening in town.  The fall out of something crazy just north of town.  And sure enough.

Town was fine till I hit the bottom of the hill leaving it north.  Went past the last parking lot and quickly thought, oh crap not sure I am game for this lol.  One lane plowed highway, right down the middle and the visibility made the last 3 hours seem great.  The second you hit areas with less of that highway showing, it was impossible to see the road.  I thought, ok what's the plan if someone is on here coming south.  You had to go so slow that hitting one another wasn't a concern.  You'd have time to turn into the snow and get stuck there lol.  Glad no one ever came. 

I knew where I wanted to get to and it was only 2 miles from town.  Above is that location.  I slowly pulled on and over to the side. The invisible side.  The number of poles you could see was a lot less here than where I was before.  And the thing is, sure you might be able to see objects at that distance, but it doesn't mean you can see the dang road right in front of the car.  I got out a couple times as I tried to work the car over as far as possible.  Had there not been a power problem down this road and several power trucks, there'd have been no one using this thing.  Just like the one I picked before. 

So bad out.  The power trucks rutted out the snow already a fair bit.  Imagine it without any tracks.  It was lame. 

Getting back on the highway to head back to town.  There's a highway dead center.  I was thinking, I really want to document and capture it when it does this at 60mph.  The how is the question.  Gusts to 40 or so made this problematic.  Make those 60 instead and once you are there, you aren't going anywhere till it stops.  And how do you get there if you don't do it before it gets bad and then sit and wait?  Like here for instance.  If I only wanted to reach this spot 2 miles from town, how would I do it in that case.  You could do it with two people.  Just have one of you walking in front of the car helping to see the road.  It's not like there are nice gaps out here where anyone can get going too fast in those conditions anyway.  No one would even be able to unless they too had someone walking in front of the car.  I'm talking as straight up bad as bad gets.  Driving there early and waiting would probably be better.  Actually yeah that'd likely be the only op as surely the road would get closed.  It seems a chore to get deep snow and really big winds though. 

The blizzard I chased in northern NE in 2005 had gusts to 75 mph and 10 inches of snow.  Alas I/wind bent the car door hinge in town right off the bat and couldn't leave the hotel.  The windmills there, 2 of them, had gusts to 115mph..  I pretty much blew that one with the door deal lol.   

Lovely weather. 

What a difference a visible stripe makes!