Officials keeping an eye on crops, cattle as winter storm hits Nebraska Panhandle
CHADRON - A winter storm system has dropped nearly a half foot of snow in northwest Nebraska, making roads and highways treacherous.
According to the National Weather Service, blowing and drifting snow are making travel hazardous and says the low temperatures could pose a danger to people working outdoors and livestock. Wind gusts could approach 35 MPH.
Extension Educator for Beef Systems in the Northern Panhandle, Jack Arterburn, says the University of Nebraska takes steps to stay ahead of agriculture producers to provide necessary resources when a winter storm hits.
"The cold is probably the bigger thing," Arterburn says. "The grass and crops will start shutting down and that's tough, because a lot of the crops got in late with the wet Spring we had. I'm not sure what the corn and other crops are going to look like, but I know that's not a good thing for them, because they're not quite mature yet."
Five inches already fell in Chadron, where schools and Chadron State College canceled classes for Thursday. A little over three inches has accumulated in Scottsbluff.
Arterburn says a winter storm this early in October isn't unusual for northwest Nebraska. He isn't worried about the cold affecting cattle in the panhandle, because temperatures are expected to be above freezing in the coming days and the snow should be completely gone by early next week.
"I think the tough part might be mud with how warm it was," Arterburn said. "Two days ago, it was probably 80 degrees. It's not completely frozen and you're going to get cattle out there, tromping around with all this moisture, and making a lot of mud. People might be hauling hay out to their cattle. Maybe not this early, but coming up if they're getting worried about the cattle conditions in the snow. They might be trying to haul hay out there and it's going to be muddy."
Schools in Gordon, Hay Springs and Hemingford also cancelled classes on Thursday.
The eastbound system has brought an inch so far to Valentine.
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The Associated Press contributed to this story.