National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


A powerful low pressure system passed through the Central Plains on  Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, bringing several hours of near-blizzard to blizzard conditions to the southeast half (and especially the southeast one-third) of the  NWS Hastings coverage area (see map and list of snow totals below).  

Snow first developed over north central Kansas and far south central Nebraska during the mid-late morning hours, then quickly spread northeast into the remainder of affected areas during the early afternoon. After peaking in intensity during the early-mid afternoon, snow gradually departed from west-to-east during the late-afternoon/early evening, with the entire area snow-free by around 8 PM. 

As for actual totals, most areas southeast of roughly a York-Red Cloud-Stockton KS line saw the highest amounts of 6-10", although amounts as high as around 3" were reported as far northwest as roughly an Osceola-Hastings-Cambridge line. To the northwest of that line, noticeably lower amounts around 1" or less were common (including the Grand Island/Kearney areas). Prior to the onset of blizzard conditions, most places saw a period of freezing drizzle that kicked in as early as the evening of the 22nd, resulting in some slick roads before snow ever started. 

Of course, snow was not the only story given this was a blizzard, as north-northwest winds frequently gusting 35-40+ MPH resulted in very poor visibility for several hours (frequently around/less than 1/4 mile in the areas of heaviest snow), along with considerable drifting. Travel became treacherous on many local roadways, including Interstate 80, where several accidents occurred in Hamilton and York counties. At one point during the afternoon-evening, the Interstate was closed from Omaha to as far west as Lexington. 

From a forecasting perspective, this event was actually well-anticipated, and worked out very "well" compared to what actually occurred. A Winter Storm Watch was issued for our entire coverage area on the afternoon of Thursday the 21st (nearly 48 hours in advance), with several southeast counties subsequently upgraded to a Blizzard Warning on the afternoon of the 22nd (nearly 24 hours in advance). 

Radar loop from 5 AM - 9 PM on February 23, 2019 shows the development and progression of the snow, including the heavy snow band.

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