Officials urge Nebraskans to avoid travel, save energy during snow emergency

Nebraskans are being asked to restrict travel and save energy whenever possible as extremely cold weather lingers across the Great Plains. 

“If travel is necessary, be prepared for the possibility that you may become stranded,” Col John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, said Sunday. “As temperatures and wind chills remain critically low, it is imperative that anyone who becomes stranded stays in their vehicle and calls for help immediately”

Travelers who become stranded are advised to dial *55 or 911 on their cellphone. The closest first responder will work to reach you as quickly as possible, Bolduc said. 

Since Monday, troopers have responded to more than 1,200 stranded vehicles. They have performed more than 400 motorist assists since Saturday.

Nebraska Highway 4

Nebraska Department of Transportation crews work to clear Nebraska Highway 4 on Sunday just west of Bruning near the Kansas border. So far, NDOT crews have put in 35,000 man-hours over the last seven days, with only a one-day break. Throughout the weather event, shifts have lasted 16 hours or more.

According to a statement from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency on Sunday, Gov. Jim Pillen’s emergency declaration has allowed the state to seek assistance from South Dakota. As a result, Nebraska will receive two truck-mounted blowers and two loader blowers as well as crew support as early as Monday. 

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The road clearing assistance from South Dakota will supplement crews from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, who have been working non-stop to reopen highways and local roads.

“The partnership with South Dakota through the (Emergency Management Assistance Compact) will allow us to attack those sections of highway that remain closed at this time,” Pillen said. “We appreciate the assistance from South Dakota as well as the coordinated efforts of our state and local agencies.”

So far, Nebraska Department of Transportation crews have put in 35,000 man-hours over the last seven days, with only a one-day break. Throughout the weather event, shifts have lasted 16 hours or more.

“NDOT has been all-hands-on-deck 24/7 for a week now, bringing in equipment and people from other areas of the state,” said Vicki Kramer, the director of the Department of Transportation. “I thank each and every one of them for their dedication and selflessness.”

OPPD  issued a statement Sunday asking customers to conserve power to avoid outages. Robocalls from OPPD were made Sunday to customers warning them that the dangerously low temperatures could have an impact on its electrical system. The utility company said the weather “came on faster and has been more prolonged” than anticipated.

 “As of this time, our regional transmission organization, Southwest Power Pool, has not called upon member utilities in 14 states to curtail energy usage,” OPPD said in a statement to news organizations. “Rather, Omaha Public Power District is proactively asking our customers to conserve energy today and for the next several days to help keep our systems and your homes and businesses safe and energized.”

Lincoln Electric System said it continues to “see high electric use due to the extreme cold temperatures.” Both utility companies recommend that customers consider energy saving tips in their homes and businesses.

Highway 92

A semitrailer truck got stranded on the side of Nebraska Highway 92 near Osceola about 90 miles west of Omaha. Travelers who become stranded are advised to dial *55 or 911 on their cellphone.

“Small lifestyle changes can translate into energy and cost savings on a customers’ bill,” said Paul Crist of Lincoln Electric System. “We want customers to know how to positively impact their bill, especially during prolonged periods of extreme cold.”

Consumers are encouraged to consider the following energy-saving tips:

• Lower thermostats 2 to 4 degrees.

• Make sure air registers are not obstructed by furniture, carpeting or drapes.

• Keep windows tightly latched. Seal windows and external doors.

• Turn off electric lights and appliances not in use.

• Avoid using appliances like your washer or dryer or dishwasher, especially during the peak usage times of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

• Prepare for the potential of power outages related to weather or other causes over the next several days by ensuring you have supplies like flashlights, warm clothes and blankets handy. 

 OPPD asked that outages be reported its OPPDConnect app, at or by calling 800-554-6773. Follow OPPD’s Facebook and Twitter pages for more information. 

The continuing sub-zero temperatures also caused Omaha’s Metro Transit to reduce bus service Monday and Tuesday. Service Monday will start “around 8 a.m. and end at about 6 p.m.,” according to statement from the bus company. 

Metro Transit also said will be no express service; Routes 3, 13, and 24 will move to 30-minute service; and ORBT will move to service every 20 minutes. Bus service on Tuesday service “will start around 6 a.m. and end around 9 p.m.,” the company said. 

Riders should check for the most up-to-date information., 402-444-1272