Tornadoes, Damaging Hail, Record Rains Fall Across Nebraska

Photo shared with NTV via Facebook by Chris Sheen

After a Mother's Day storm left a trail of damage across Nebraska, fathers get a memorable storm of their own, with tornadoes, damaging hail and record rainfall.

The storms began Saturday afternoon, and continued well past midnight, into Father's Day.

There were as many as nine tornadoes reported to the National Weather Service in Hastings, however, that is a preliminary count.

Reported tornadoes include:
  • 5:33 PM - Rooks, KS. Multiple reports of a tornado on the ground for 3-4 minutes.
  • 5:33 PM - Rooks, KS. Confirmed photo land spout tornado via Twitter.
  • 7:40 PM - Hildreth, NE. Report of a land spout-type tornado one mile southwest of Hildreth
  • 7:41 PM - Hildreth, NE. Report of a tornado two miles south.
  • 7:41 PM - Minden, NE. Tornado reported 4-5 miles south and west of Minden.
  • 7:41 PM - Wilcox, NE. Tornado reported 8 miles south.
  • 10:05 PM - Trumbull, NE. Tornado reported in Hamilton County by storm chasers, 3 miles northeast of Trumbull.
  • 10:14 PM - Giltner, NE. Tornado was reported on the ground 2 miles west.
  • 10:24 PM - Giltner, NE. Delayed report of a brief tornado, 4 miles west/southwest of Giltner.
Hastings and Grand Island both set rainfall records for June 14. The past record for that date in Hastings was 1.25 inches in 1982, which was surpassed with 1.42 inches.

Grand Island received 2.59 inches at the airport, also a new record for the date, eclipsing the previous record of 2.14 inches in 1967. Unofficial weather reports show some areas of Grand Island received more than 3 inches. The city's underpasses were closed due to flooding.

Many areas reported large, damaging hail the size of golf balls and baseballs. Some areas reported winds of 60, 70, even 80 miles an hour.

Saturday night's storms have many cleaning up this Fathers Day.

In the village of Wilcox, where high winds caused damage Sunday, community members reacted.

"There's trampolines on houses, trees through houses, on cars, garages completely uprooted and on top of houses, trees everywhere," said Wilcox resident Jenny Smiley. "It's pretty sad to see my small little community like this."

Uprooted trees, blocked streets, and even buildings on houses, this was the scene on Sunday as community members cleaned up damage.

A Wilcox fire spokeswoman says practically every part of the town was damaged. Fire crews have been working non–stop, initially clearing roads to get to medical patients and gain access to hospitals.

Some residents say even though they weren't too concerned by the storm, they've never seen anything like this.

Jeff Lyons says he's lived in Wilcox for 20 years and says the storm damage is about the worst he has seen it. "Oh yeah, those trees are probably a couple hundred years old I'm guessing; we lost one out front and two out back, so that's a bummer."

Fire officials have not assessed a dollar amount on damage yet, and they estimate cleanup will continue well into the week.

Hastings residents were also picking up tree branches and debris, no surprise after wind speeds were measured at 79 miles per hour there.

Fully grown trees in the Parkview Cemetery snapped in the storms, and people were picking up branches all around town.

Some also reported being without power for several hours.

Saturday night's storms didn't only hit residential areas, local farmers suffered widespread damage as well, including an ag facility that represents an entire community.

Keene co–op suffered total structural loss on a majority of the site that held a lot of grain. The storm damaged bins, legs and dryers at the facility, even blocking the highway at one point.

Elevator officials say it's weird to see how much different the facility looks now.

"The landscape obviously is a lot different just because you're used to seeing the tall structures that are landmarks for the facilities we have," said Chad Carlson, Aurora Coop's V.P. of Grain. "And with a lot of landmarks gone, it's got a different landscape."

Carlson adds the rest of the facility was relatively unscathed and no injuries were reported. Officials will start working on ideas to replace structures on Monday.

Also, just miles away from the NTV News station, K.A.A.P.A ethanol plant sustained some damage.

And in Axtell, Sunday, downed tree limbs littered neighborhoods, locals stacked branches and debris in trucks for disposal, and rain left ponds on lawns.

Wind also twisted mailbox posts on one street.