Workers have been doing some preparation work to avoid possible flooding on city streets due to the rain and winter storm anticipated to hit the area Wednesday and Thursday.

The storm is expected to bring heavy rain followed by snow and wind causing blizzard conditions.

Gov. Pete Ricketts issued an emergency declaration Tuesday in preparation for an impending winter storm in western Nebraska and anticipated flooding in other parts of the state. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Nebraska Panhandle with forecasts of 18 to 24 inches of snow possible and 50 to 60 mph winds.

Snow has been melting because of above-freezing temperatures. Combine that with precipitation from the storm and that could cause street flooding.

“This morning the guys were going to go out and check catch basins and make sure stuff wasn’t plugged up on the main roads and checking our detention cells,” Street Superintendent Shannon Callahan said Wednesday morning. “We want to make sure there are no ice chunks in front of the inlets and outlets of the detention cells so that they can hold water.”

Callahan said there have been few calls from the public about street flooding in areas of Grand Island.

“I imagine that will pick up as we get more rain. I’ve done some driving around and everything seems to be draining OK for the most part. It’s just slow going and that’s typical for Grand Island when we get a lot of rain,” she said.

Usually, Callahan said, sitting water after a big storm subsides 24 hours after rain stops.

The public can call the streets department with flooding concerns that are out of ordinary.

“When it rains, if it normally holds water for a little bit and it’s doing that today, maybe give it a few hours to see what it does,” Callahan said.

Flooding is a concern in many areas of the state due to warmer temperatures generating runoff from snow melt. While the winter storm is expected to deliver record levels of snow in the Panhandle it is expected to generate 1 to 3 inches of rainfall in the eastern portions of Nebraska. Frozen ground and high soil saturation levels will allow snow melt and precipitation to run off into rivers and streams which are currently frozen. Significant flooding is possible along the Loup, Platte, Elkhorn and Missouri rivers. Ice jams in several locations may likely worsen flooding.

The predicted blizzard already caused the Nebraska Department of Transportation to close westbound traffic on I-80 at Ogallala Wednesday morning.

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