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WATCH NOW: Columbus weathers an ice storm
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WATCH NOW: Columbus weathers an ice storm

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Residents in some parts of Columbus and surrounding areas woke up to ice-glazed vehicles, downed tree limbs and power outages on Tuesday morning.

"I think the heavy icing with the winds combined is probably a majority of the reason for the damage," Columbus Public Works Director Chuck Sliva said.

As of noon on Tuesday, Sliva said he had not received any reports of severe damage to any buildings in Columbus.

When Sliva spoke to The Telegram at noon on Tuesday, he said the department's biggest tasks involved dealing with downed tree limbs and power lines. He expected crews to spend all of Tuesday dealing with that.

At 2:51 a.m. on Tuesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued an ice storm warning for several counties, including Platte, until 3 p.m. later that day.

Sliva said crews were out at 3 a.m. Tuesday tending to downed tree limbs and power lines.

Meanwhile, approximately 1,400 Loup Power District customers were without power for part of that morning due to the storm.

A Tuesday morning press release from Loup Power District President/CEO Neal Suess described the outages, which occurred in the Columbus, Monroe, Platte Center, Albion and Fullerton areas.

More than 1,000 customers were without power in Columbus for about an hour, most of them in the area near Walmart, 818 E. 23rd St., and Menards, 350 E. 24th St.

Another couple hundred people in Monroe lost power for about an hour. About half of Platte Center lost power for approximately 30 minutes Tuesday morning.

All of the outages, Suess said in the release, were due to tree limbs that fell on feeder lines coming out of the power district's local distribution substations.

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The Albion and Fullerton divisions also experienced some minor single outages, Suess said.

Suess said almost everyone had power back by 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Monday's rain, Sliva added, made it impossible to pre-treat for ice.

"It doesn't work, it just washes it down the curb," Sliva said.

Sliva said road conditions were acceptable into the early morning hours, but he said that changed around 9 a.m.

"Once we started getting a little more snow and moisture coming down, around 9 o'clock was when the roads took a turn for the worst," Sliva said. "At that point, crews started applying the de-icing agents."

Newer streets require different de-icers, Sliva said, and as a result, they may be a little slicker.

"They'll continue to treat where we need to — stop signs, overpasses, bridges, inclines, things of those nature," Sliva said.

By 10 a.m. Tuesday, the ice storm had turned to snow in most areas. According to a hazardous weather outlook report from NWS, conditions are expected to improve Wednesday, although temperatures are forecasted to stay low.

As winter arrives and the weather worsens, Sliva said it's important for residents to be prepared.

"Watch the weather and if they recommend not to travel, don't travel. Have an emergency kit prepared in your vehicle," Sliva said.

Some weather information can be found on the City of Columbus' website, including snow emergency routes in the event of severe snowfall.

"Just pay attention and be safe in winter driving conditions," Sliva said.

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at molly.hunter@lee.net.

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