Kay McClure-Kelly couldn’t contain herself: She was going to go buy some flowers Sunday. It was on her agenda.

“Rain or shine, we didn’t have a choice,” said her husband, Bill Kelly.

So Sunday morning at 10:30, the couple stood in front of a row of purple pansies at Lincoln's South 48th Street Earl May, while fat raindrops walloped the greenhouse around them and snow blanketed much of central Nebraska.

An inch-plus of rain and impending frost couldn't keep Kay from ushering in spring — not after Saturday’s 80-degree weather fired up her “farm-girl roots,” and her instinct to plant took over.

“It’s that time of the year,” Kay said. “We have to have flowers.”

Kay’s flowers, and crops yet to be planted across the state, will happily accept Sunday’s rain. They'll need much of the same to get the spring planting season off to a good start.

Despite the first major rain of the year, the Lincoln area is still over an inch behind the normal amount of precipitation, sitting at 2.90 inches since Jan. 1 as of Saturday afternoon. At this point last year, that amount was 4.96 inches. Normal for this time of the year is 4.23 inches, said Becky Kern at the National Weather Service office in Valley.

“The rain was a step in the right direction, but definitely wasn't a drought killer," she said.

Rain started around 8 a.m. in Lincoln, with storms dropping more than half an inch of rain — plus hail in some places — before noon. A mid-afternoon downpour brought the total above an inch, and more was expected into the late evening.

To the west, heavy snow and wind caused whiteout conditions, stranding drivers and causing crashes and closures along Interstate 80. Several towns reported power outages.

As the cold swept into Lincoln, Dave Greathouse eyed some roses at the Campbell's Nursery in southeast Lincoln.

The retired high school counselor lamented that he'd have to put his gardening on hold a bit longer.

“It’s gotta get warmer,” he said as wind flapped the greenhouse's plastic covering. “No way could I do it this week.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or cheady@journalstar.com.

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