- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraskans on opposite sides of the state are likely to experience wildly divergent weather conditions this weekend, with possible tornadoes and flooding in the east, and heavy snow in the west.

The eastern half of the state can expect strong storms with heavy rain, large hail and high winds starting Saturday afternoon into Sunday, Omaha National Weather Service meteorologist Josh Boustead said. Those storms will also bring a possibility of tornadoes and flooding throughout the region, he said.

“It seems all facets of weather are possible in eastern Nebraska this weekend,” he said.

But in western Nebraska, residents should be prepared to break out their snow shovels by Mother’s Day.

Meteorologist Rob Cox with the weather service’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, office - which oversees western Nebraska’s weather - said the Nebraska Panhandle is expected to get between 3 inches and 5 inches of snow by Sunday evening - and those at higher elevations in far northwest Nebraska could see up to 8 inches.

“This will be a healthy snow event,” Cox said. “The main concern right now is that it will be more a heavy, wet variety.”

Temperatures are expected to drop well below freezing Saturday night, into the mid and upper 20s, he said.

“Anything you have planted outside, you may want to cover it up,” Cox said.

Boustead said both weather extremes will emerge from the same system that will cover most of the Great Plains this weekend. But the western part of Nebraska will see temperatures drop as a separate cold front moves in.

“We’ll be ahead of the cold front in the eastern part of Nebraska, so you’ll see much warmer temperatures and a lot of humidity here,” he said.

Snow in May is not uncommon in western Nebraska, Cox said. In fact, the area has seen snow in June.

The record amount of snow to fall in May at Scottsbluff was nearly 19 inches in 1915.

“Last year, we had a Mother’s Day snow event,” Cox said.

But it’s rare to see such “a contrast between the eastern and western parts of the state,” Boustead said. “No one likes severe storms. But I don’t like snow in May, either.”

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