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A light rain on Wednesday evening turned into snow by Thursday morning, forcing several area schools to cancel classes and creating a treacherous morning commute. 

Snowfall in Beatrice intensified around 8 a.m. Visibility proved to be the biggest challenge for morning commuters, as strong winds sent snow flying and made it difficult for drivers to see lanes, signs and other commuters.

Street Superintendent Jason Moore said Beatrice received about 2 inches of snowfall Thursday morning.

Efforts to clear the streets were hindered by the strong wind gusts, which posed an added challenge to workers.

“The high winds have been extremely difficult,” Moore said. “Anytime you have high winds, what you need to hope for is you can get the streets plowed down and scraped off the best you can. What ends up happening is, if you apply salt to the road, the salt will make snow melt and create wetness. Then the blowing snow will stick and build up on that.”

Street department crews were out at around 4 a.m. Thursday, shortly after sleet started to fall.

Moore said the department set out to clear the streets as best as possible for the 6 a.m. commute.

He added that by Thursday afternoon, most of the snow routes were in good shape, and that crews would be out first thing Friday to clear any problem areas where snow was blowing.

Early Thursday morning, Beatrice Public Schools had announced a two-hour delay. But shortly before 8 a.m., Superintendent Pat Nauroth chose to cancel school for the day.

Diller-Odell, Freman, Lewiston, Norris, Tri County, Pawnee City, Wymore, Sterling also closed for the day, in addition to St. Paul and St. Joseph's schools in Beatrice. 

Fairbury, Meridian and Southeast Community College in Beatrice were planning to start the school day two hours late.

Thursday games in the ongoing MUDECAS basketball tournament in Beatrice were postponed until Friday, and by Thursday afternoon, organizers were still working out the schedule for the rest of the tournament.

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