Strong winds are forecast until after midnight in the Omaha area, according to the National Weather Service.
The worst of the winds – those gusting to near 40 mph – should begin subside about 9 p.m., but winds approaching 25 mph to 30 mph are likely until 3 a.m. or so, according to the weather service.
The big news in the week ahead will be the cold.
After a break on Friday – sunshine, highs in the 40s, light winds – a strong cold front descends and will last for a week or more.
If there's a silver lining in that forecast, it's that the calendar is changing over to March, so "below average" cold at this time of year is much warmer than it was when the Polar Express struck in January. The average high at this time of year in Omaha is around 40 degrees.
Snow moves east
Snowfall in the Omaha area was expected to end early this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
"By about 2 or 3 p.m., it should all be east of here," said Van DeWald, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. One to 3 inches of snow had been expected.
Once the snow stops, it should be done, he said. No lingering flurries are expected.
At 11 a.m., snow had stopped falling at York, Norfolk and Columbus, he said.
"So there is an end to it," he said. About 1 inch of snow had been measured at the weather service office in Valley as of late morning, he said.
Strong winds may have been responsible for 3,623 Omaha Public Power District customer power outages late Thursday morning: Douglas County, 2,535; Washington County, 386; Sarpy County, 273; Cass County, 165; Otoe County, 199.
Thursday morning, Omaha police stopped taking reports of vehicular accidents that involved only property damage. A few accidents with injuries had been reported around the city, including at 52nd Street and Sorensen Parkway and Interstate 680 and West Dodge Road.
Omaha Metro announced it had altered its service plans in response to the weather conditions. More details.
Visibility during the afternoon commute shouldn't be an issue, despite gusty winds, DeWald said.
"It's such a heavy, wet snow. I don't think it will be a problem," DeWald said. By the evening rush, it's realistic to hope that the pavement on Interstate 80 will be nothing worse than wet.
Temperatures, DeWald said, are expected in the mid- to upper 30s during the commute.
"Once the snow ends, we'll see continued melting," he said.
Friday's temperatures are forecast to peak in the 40s. Be sure to enjoy them.
A prolonged cold spell is coming.
After a high temperature around 41 degrees early Thursday, weather service meteorologist Becky Kern said, the Omaha area can expect a low tonight of 22. Friday's high will reach the low 40s, she said, with colder air moving into the area next week. Monday's high will reach the 20s.
In southeast Nebraska, a thunderstorm was clocked at 50 mph moving in a northeasterly direction near Tecumseh, according to the National Weather Service. The cell could contain one-half inch hail and winds in excess of 40 mph.
The storm is expected to reduce visibility in rural areas, with near blizzard conditions, said Bryon Miller of the National Weather Service in Valley, Neb. In urban areas, visibility might be cut to less than half a mile, so expect slow going on highways.
The wet and heavy snow is expected blizzard conditions in some parts of Iowa.
As today's storm moves into Iowa, it apparently is saving some of its greatest fury for the Interstate 80 corridor, with near blizzard to blizzard conditions forecast.
Snow blowing sideways at 30 mph to 40 mph was forecast this morning. In Pottawattamie, Harrison, Monona and Shelby Counties, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one step shy of a blizzard.
East of those Iowa counties, however, a blizzard warning is in effect from 9 a.m. today through 6 a.m. Friday.
Current conditions and forecast