News

Actions

A look inside NWS Valley before severe ice storm

Posted at 11:21 PM, Jan 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-15 14:50:53-05
Extremely hazardous conditions could follow winter weather starting Sunday. 
 
The worst of it expected early Monday morning across the Omaha area. 
 
We went behind the scenes at the National Weather Service in Valley to gather the challenges of forecasting during unfavorable conditions.
 
The Valley NWS station gathers information for 39 counties in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska.
 
They’re helping generate the forecast for what could be a nasty ice storm.
 
It’s one of the few sites in the Midwest that releases weather balloons to gather atmospheric conditions. 
 
"Weather balloons are extremely important as far as predicting what the atmosphere is going to do,” said Meteorologist Bryon Miller.
 
A balloon that gathers data as far as 100,000 feet high is part of what this 24-hour operation does to help meteorologists across the area. 
 
 “The bigger challenges, like an ice storm, really get us to flex our brain muscles and think about what's happening and figure out how to communicate, so that our partners in the media, like you guys, can help tell people what to do to be safe,” said Meteorologist Barbara Mayes.
 
While forecasting unusual weather can be challenging, Barbara Mayes says the weirder the weather, the more interesting it is to forecast. 
 
“It keeps our meteorological blood flowing to really look at these interesting patterns and try to figure out what's going to happen, and try to figure out how to tell people what to do,” Mayes said. 
 
Meteorologists are not the only ones preparing for the impending storm. 
 
Twenty miles east, these grocery shoppers are using what could be the last dry night to stock up, in case ice traps them at home Sunday into Monday.
 
"What I've been doing is preparing, making sure medications are ready,” said Erlinda Mendoza-Mora, Omaha. “I went out to get my medications filled. That's done. Making sure we have the appropriate food and keep warm.”
 
"Our biggest worry is that we won't be able to leave our house for a while because we have like 10 gigantic stairs leaving our house and it will be detrimental if there is a layer of ice covering them,” said Bri Jensen, Omaha.