15 inches of snow makes Nebraska look like 'middle of winter' in early May

The Nebraska Department of Transportation works to try and reopen Interstate 80 on Monday, after heavy snowfall totals hit the Nebraska Panhandle. (Photo/Nebraska DoT)

It can certainly snow in May, something that residents of parts of western Nebraska learned Monday as a heavy dose of fresh powder closed highways and led to several accidents. Some places in the Nebraska Panhandle picked up nearly a foot or more of snow on the second day of May.

Despite the strong early-May sun, cold air with heavy snowfall rates were enough to blanket Interstate 80, causing the important transcontinental highway to be closed for several hours from Wyoming to Big Springs, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

24-Hour Snowfall

24-hour snowfall estimates on the morning of May 3, 2022

The highway was reopened to the public early Monday afternoon, with the State Patrol asking residents to move slowly on the reopened road and to watch for potential slick spots.

The wintry conditions were enough to make people take note of the visual juxtaposition of heavy snowfall six weeks into spring. "Looks like the middle of winter," David Koeller, a meteorologist at the opposite end of the state with WOWT Channel 6 News in Omaha, tweeted. Winter Weather advisories were in effect Monday across much of the Nebraska Panhandle.

Indeed, the snow accumulations were typical of a winter storm.

In Kimball, Nebraska, just miles from the northeast tip of the Nebraska-Colorado border, 15 inches of snow was measured as of late Monday night. Other cities in Nebraska hit with double-digit snowfall were Potter, with 11 inches of accumulation, and Albin with 10 inches. Other places to record significant snowfall included Gering, Nebraska, with 9 inches, and Oliver, Nebraska, with 8 inches of snow as of late Monday night.

Nebraska Snow Reports 5/2

Snow reports from NWS spotters on May 2, 2022

Residents of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, have been experiencing weather whiplash. While it snowed Monday, temperatures were up into the 90s just 10 days ago, and they were in the mid-70s last week.

Snow was also falling across northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, where generally light snowfall accumulations are expected. Albin, Wyoming, observed one of the top snow reports across the state with 10.0 inches of snow on Monday.

In the eastern part of Nebraska, the same system that caused the snowfall has spread some much-needed rain across the drought-stricken Great Plains. Areas from North Platte to Lincoln received 24-hour rainfall amounts generally ranging from 1.00 to nearly 1.75 inches on Monday.

The somewhat unusual May snowfall comes in stark contrast to the weather that occurred not too far south in Oklahoma Monday, where temperatures climbed into the 90s. The intense temperature gradient is one of the pieces helping to fuel a significant risk of severe storms tonight and throughout the week, with multiple rounds of storms capable of producing all types of severe weather, including tornadoes.

Those who weren't pleased with snowfall to begin the month will just have to wait a few days for the weather to make another major turnaround. For instance, in Kimball, where the top snow total of 15 inches was tallied, the winter weather should be a distant memory in just a few days. Temperatures will rise into the low to mid-70s by the weekend and skies will be mostly sunny, according to the AccuWeather forecast.

For the latest weather news, check back on AccuWeather.com. Watch the AccuWeather Network on DIRECTV, Frontier, Spectrum, fuboTV, Philo and Verizon Fios. AccuWeather Now is now available on your preferred streaming platform.