People in the Beatrice area woke up to ice-coated trees and rain/freezing rain on Wednesday morning. With the temps staying right at or just above freezing, there was not much of a problem. There was already a lot of snow and wind in the west and central part of the state, though. Over Wednesday night we had periods of light rain, drizzle and mist. When I went home on Christmas Eve morning, I thought the forecasters were wrong, even though they were still saying we were in for a big storm.
I woke up on Christmas eve to find it snowing and blowing. Forecast was for winter storm warnings, blizzard watches and blizzard warnings across most of the state. When I got to work, arrangements had already been made for us to use the Beatrice Fire Department’s Expedition to get around in the snow. I stayed in my Crown Vic until about 10:30 PM, when I switched over. About 7 PM, the local radio station announced that we were in a blizzard warning until 6 AM on Saturday with high winds and periods of heavy snow. TRAVEL WAS NOT ADVISED!!
The street department was to start cleaning emergency snow routes at 11 PM. The State Department of Roads was already out by 8 PM. With the high winds, they had a hard time of it. I fill my car with gas about 7 PM and the highway on the north end of town was already almost blown shut. Calls started coming in about stranded vehicles all over the county. Near the state line, a car was in the ditch with 2 adults and 2 infants. Roads all around them were drifted shut and deputies could not get to them. By now, there were many locations with zero visibility due to the blowing snow. Gage County Emergency Management organized a Search & Rescue effort and was able to reach the stalled vehicle and rescue the occupants. Several other vehicles were stalled in the south end of the county. About midnight, the highway on the north end of town was blocked again and several cars were stranded north of the city limits.
City crews kept on working to keep snow routes open. Around 4 AM, a report was received of several stalled cars on Hwy 77 between the east and west junctions of Hwy 41. One was a Jefferson County ambulance on its was to Lincoln with a patient. The ambulance was able to continue after a snowplow arrived to clear the way.
It’s been so long since we’ve had a true blizzard that many people may not realize how dangerous this weather event is. The bottom line is, when the Weather Service says to stay home, STAY AT HOME!! At this point, this area has been lucky and there have been no serious injuries or fatalities.
The weather outside is frightful, but it can also help families enjoy time together. As long as there are enough supplies in the house, there is no reason to go out. At work on Christmas Eve, one of the dispatchers told us That her son told her "I wish that we could just stay home and spend Christmas Day together." I think he has wisdom beyond his years. He also got his wish!!
On Saturday we celebrate Christmas with Jason and Jeremy and their families and they will only have to go across town. Wednesday we’ll have Christmas with my side of the family and watch Nebraska win another bowl game. Hopefully, the weather will give us a few days’ break.
In following up on the two Washington deputies shot early this week, one has been released from the hospital. Sgt Nick Hausner left the hospital on the morning of December 24th and a motorcade of police escorts accompanied him to Harborview Medical Center near Tacoma, where he visited his wounded partner, Deputy Kent Mundell. Deputy Mundell is still listed in critical condition. Vigils are being held at the hospital by officers from numerous agencies. The Law Enforcement community worldwide is praying for Deputy Mundell’s recovery.
Fighting the weather makes the beginning of the racing season seem like a very long time away, but everybody is still working on getting their equipment ready for the 2010 season. I got my engine block, crankshaft and heads back from the machine shop before the bad weather hit us. The block is on the engine stand, wrapped up in a plastic bag. Maybe before the weekend is over I can build a fire in the woodburner and warm the garage up enough so I can put the crank in and torque the main caps. I still need to find a set of pistons before I can put the short block together. I also have to get the engine that is in the car, out so it can be freshened, but I don’t want to have two engines apart at the same time.
I’ve also been looking at the map trying to figure out if I can make it to Billings, Montana in two days on the Gold Wing. We’re going to attend the Blue Knights International Convention there in July. I’d wanted to take my time going both ways, but we won’t be able to leave Beatrice until Saturday morning and I wanted to be there on Sunday evening. I haven’t figured the exact mileage, but it looks like about 110 miles.
We rode to Spokane in 1998 for the International Convention. We left Grand Island about 5:30 AM on Friday and planned to stay in Coer d’Alene, Idaho, on Saturday night. However, mechanical problems on one of the bikes set us back. Anyway, we stayed at a KOA campground at Sheridan, Wyoming on Friday night and were in Billings well before noon on Saturday. Of course, we didn’t take time to do any sightseeing, and Grand Island is 13 miles closer than Beatrice. I hope to be able to take more time coming back from Billings to do some sightseeing.
Jan and I have really gone modern as we got new cell phones. I’m through the first 20 pages of the 150 page instruction manual and am already thoroughly confused. I hope this phone gives me as good of service as the last one. I had it for 5 years and never had a problem with it. Of course, I’d be satisfied if I could get calls, make calls and have my address book. Both of our phones have Navigation and that is included in the monthly bill on Jan’s phone. I can have it if I pay $9.95 a month more. I decided if I ever need it, we’ll probably be together so we’ll just use hers. We both have cameras incorporated in our phones, which is kind of cool. The pictures I took on Christmas eve were taken on my phone. I even got “Bluetooth” with my phone. They say I can talk on my phone without having to hang onto it, which will be cool if I can make the silly thing stay on my ear!!