Multiple Accident Reported on I-80 in Western Iowa As Snow Piles Up

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By Aaron Hepker

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Transportation officials reported multiple car accidents Sunday along nearly 200 miles of Interstate 80 between Nebraska and Iowa, as heavy snow and strong winds hit the region.

The Nebraska State Patrol said the westbound lanes of I-80 were closed between Lincoln and Grand Island. State Patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins said there were several reports of vehicles hitting the median or going into ditches. She said the closure was due to those reports but also as a precaution because of whiteout conditions in the area.

The Iowa Department of Transportation said westbound lanes of I-80 between Shelby and Avoca near the Nebraska state line are closed. Northbound lanes of Interstate 29 near Little Sioux have reopened, though a southbound lane remains closed.

Iowa DOT said multiple crashes involving semitrailers have caused interstate routes to be blocked for several hours.

Collins said she did not have additional information about how many accidents had been reported. No details about injuries or fatalities were immediately available.

Transportation department officials said there were whiteout conditions in parts of western Iowa, with winds in excess of 40 mph.

The National Weather Service forecast up to 8 inches of snow Sunday around east-central Nebraska and southwest Iowa. The heaviest snow was expected in a swath from around David City in Nebraska, to Missouri Valley and Onawa in Iowa. Up to 9 inches of snow was possible in some areas.

Authorities in Nebraska have blamed the weather for at least one fatality. The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office said 22-year-old Justin Muhm lost control of his southbound vehicle Sunday on icy Nebraska 43 near Bennet. He was pronounced dead at Bryan West Campus.

Weather officials said a winter storm warning would be in effect until 7 p.m. A blizzard warning was in effect until 4 p.m. for a smaller swath in south-central Nebraska.

Officials warned that northwest winds with gusts of 35 mph would greatly reduce visibility on roads. They also said roads would possibly become slick from temperatures dropping below freezing.

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