OGALLALA - Hotels in Ogallala and North Platte reached capacity Tuesday night when motorists became stranded after Interstate 80 and Highway 30 were closed due to dangerous roads and whiteout conditions in a post-Christmas blizzard that surged through Nebraska this week.

The Nebraska State Patrol and Nebraska Department of Transportation released a statement Tuesday evening, telling motorists to not attempt to travel in blizzard conditions, "as travel may be difficult to impossible.  A combination of heavy snow accumulation and high winds created hazardous travel conditions in western Nebraska. Blizzard warnings remained in effect until 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 30 were closed from Kearney to Cheyenne, Wyo. NDOT expected closures to continue to roll back from the Colorado and Wyoming border into Central Nebraska.

“The impact of this storm has only continued to grow over the last 48 hours,” Director of NDOT, Vicki Kramer said. “Closures, while inconvenient, are for the sake of safety. By closing roads along the main I-80 and Highway 30 routes, motorists have more options when it comes to lodging, food, fuel and medical services.”

NDOT continued to treat and plow roadways Tuesday night.

“While we got our white Christmas, this is not the kind of gift you want to keep on giving,” Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent Col. John Bolduc said. “We implore the traveling public to heed these closure by adjusting your travel plans and staying safe.”

If motorists become stranded, call the NSP Highway Helpline at *55 or 800-525-5555 to speak directly with an NSP dispatcher who can send help.

Ogallala Public Schools opened Prairie View Elementary School as a temporary shelter for stranded travelers. Those who need shelter can report to 801 O Street in Ogallala.

"This decision was made in coordination with local authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of those who are unable to travel," the school said in a statement. 

The Driftwood in Ogallala is providing a meal for those who utilize the shelter.

The Rec Center was opened as a shelter for travelers who were unable to find hotel rooms in North Platte. 

Strong winds also blasted northeast Colorado. A 61 mph wind gust was registered in Sterling and a 52 mph wind gust was recorded in Peetz. I-76 eastbound from Sterling to Nebraska and US 6 eastbound from Sterling to Nebraska was closed due to the weather. 

The weather service says breezy conditions return Wednesday and will lead to areas of blowing and drifting snow, but not as significant as what was seen on Tuesday.