Interstate 80 is one of the two most heavily traveled transcontinental
highways in the United States. The Interstate is linked to about
three-quarters of the estimated $2.8 billion that travelers
spent last year in Nebraska.
On an average non-summer day, more than 15,000 vehicles pass
by Overton, about midway across the state. In the summer, the
daily average surges to more than 20,000.
Of the main east-west routes, only I-40 carries as much traffic.
Interstate 70 sees about 12,600 a day on average during the
summer in western Kansas, while Interstate 90 logs about 7,500
across western South Dakota.
Rains - July 6, 2002
“ (The storm) just sat here and rained and rained.”
Dave Wert, National Weather Service, North Platte, NE
reports called it a “500 Year Flood”. A few days later it had grown
into a “1000 Year Flood”. Whatever it’s called, it will be
just fine with Keith County residents, I-80 travelers, area contractors,
and Department of Roads employees if they don’t see another storm
like it during either of those timeframes.
to the North Platte National Weather Service Office, who issued
the first flash flood warning at 6:29 am MDT, the storm was created
by the same northward push of tropical air that caused massive flooding
in San Antonio, TX, earlier the same week. When the system
reached the Ogallala, Nebraska, area it stalled out.
heavy rainfall started about 1 am CDT on Saturday, July 6, 2002.
By the time it tapered off (around 11 am), up to 10 inches of rain
had doused the drought stricken area. It poured through the early
morning hours onto the farmland south and southwest of Ogallala.
It came down so fast that the parched earth could not absorb it.
The run-off surged through canals, streams, and ditches, gaining
strength as it tried to make its way past the Interstate highway
to the South Platte River. The result was a flood that threatened
anything that got in the way – farmland, mobile homes, cars, bridges,
culverts, and roads. The rising waters quickly turned the dry Western
Canal into a torrent. That torrent swelled over Interstate 80 just
east of the Ogallala interchange.
(Click on each thumbnail below to
see a larger view)
Comfort Inn at the Ogallala Interchange
Another view of the Interchange
Truck parked at the Interchange. Note the buckled pavement.
View of road to Grant, just southeast of Brule