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Gov. Ricketts Urges Nebraskans to Monitor Weather Condition

For Immediate Release:
5:00PM CT on February 1, 2016                           

Media Contacts:
Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970 
Jodie Fawl, NEMA, 402-471-7428
Deb Collins, State Patrol, 402-479-4985
Jeni Lautenschlager, Roads Department, 402-479-4512

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts urged Nebraskans to use caution and monitor weather conditions.  As heavy snowfall, blizzard conditions and winter weather warnings are affecting much of the state, Nebraska state agencies are coordinating their response efforts.

“Susanne and I urge Nebraskans to watch the weather closely, and to avoid any unnecessary travel in areas of the state experiencing extreme winter weather,” said Governor Ricketts.

Agencies across state government are monitoring the weather and stand ready to respond as severe weather impacts communities across our state.

Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) NEMA staff is continuing to monitor weather conditions as the storm progresses across the state.

“We are keeping in close touch with National Weather Service, local emergency managers and representatives at other state agencies so that we are ready in case the state would need to offer assistance to local emergency managers,” said NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma.  “The State Emergency Operations Center at NEMA will be activated tomorrow which will include some NEMA staff and Emergency Support Function staff from other state agencies to monitor the storm and to respond to local need.”

A NEMA duty officer team takes calls outside of normal business hours should assistance be needed.

Safety of all Nebraskans and visitors to the state is a priority and as conditions deteriorate, NEMA recommends that motorists avoid unnecessary driving.

Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) — Crews are out in areas where snow has begun falling and other NDOR crews are preparing for weather to come. NDOR continues to monitor weather reports and ready all materials and crews.

Travelers can check on road closures and conditions by calling 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System.  The system can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by dialing 511, or online at www.511.nebraska.gov.  A Nebraska 511 mobile app is also available to download at no cost for smartphone users. Simply search your app provider for Nebraska 511.

Nebraska National Guard (NNG) — NNG will staff the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) at NEMA on Tuesday to coordinate resources from the military department should they be needed.

Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) — NSP is urging motorists to be prepared and keep up-to-date on the latest weather and road conditions as a powerful winter storm expected to impact travel is forecast for the Cornhusker State.

“This storm as forecasted would make travel extremely dangerous across a good portion of the state,” said Colonel Bradley Rice, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “We encourage all motorists to stay up-to-date by monitoring the weather and road conditions closely and be prepared to change travel plans if need be.”

The Nebraska State Patrol issues the following reminders for motorists traveling in extreme weather conditions:

  •        Blowing and drifting snow can reduce visibility. Travel only when absolutely necessary. Always wear your seat belt and never drive faster than conditions allow.
  •        If you must travel, use well-traveled routes and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
  •        Let others know when you are going, when you will arrive, and what route you are taking.
  •        If you do become stranded while traveling, stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Wind chill and freezing temperatures can be life threatening.
  •        If your vehicle does become stuck, run your motor sparingly, keep a window cracked and make sure tailpipe is clear to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide
  •        Carry a red flag or bandana in your car and attach it to the outside to signal you are in trouble.

Be sure to include a winter weather survival kit in your vehicle as your travel. The following are some basic items to keep in your car in case you become stranded in wintry weather:

  •        Emergency first aid kit         
  •        Ice scraper, shovel, small bag of sand
  •        Mobile phone, charger, batteries    
  •        High energy or dehydrated foods, bottled water
  •        Blankets or sleeping bag, extra set of clothing and winter accessories    
  •        Flashlight- include extra batteries (cold weather reduces battery strength)
  •        Jumper cables, tow rope, tool kit    
  •        Both large and small can
  •        Matches and candles
  •        Red flag or bandana.

Motorists in need of emergency roadside assistance can call the Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline when safe to do so by dialing *55 from any cell phone or 1-800-525-5555 from any landline, report emergencies to 911.