Friday night storm sweeps through southwest Nebraska
High winds, lots of rainfall, some hail associated with storm
By Russ Pankonin and
Imperial Republican/Wauneta Breeze
Emergency management weather spotters went into action Friday night to track a major storm cell that crossed from northeast Colorado across southwest Nebraska. The storm brought high winds, heavy rain and some hail.
Already on Thursday, Aug. 6, the National Weather Service issued flash flood watches for Chase County. They predicted the big storm that moved through the region Friday night.
Chase County Emergency Manager Duane Dreiling said they had four spotters out on the night of the storm.
He said they were in constant contact with the Weather Service as the storm moved through.
Around 7 p.m., Dreiling said they blew the tornado siren in Champion as a safety precaution as the storm move towards Champion.
He said the Weather Service notified him of a possible cloud formation similar to the tornados at Pilger last year.
However, he said the storm was wrapped in rain so they had no visibility of what was above so they opted on the side of safety.
Dreiling said he’s received reports of rainfall totals exceeding five inches south of Champion.
The Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network reported a high of 4.17 inches southwest of Champion.
Local insurance agents said they have received calls on crop and property damage due to hail, along with several lightning strikes reported.
Some of the worst hail damage occurred along a line about seven miles southwest of Champion. The wind-driven hail significantly stripped up corn and defoliated soybeans fields.
High winds hit Wauneta
Winds estimated at 70 mph hit the community of Wauneta as the storm moved east.
The storm caused damage in town and to outlying areas in the form of fallen tree branches, damage to crops and rising river water.
The water in the Frenchman River running through Wauneta swelled as the rain fell and readers reported rains significant enough to turn Wauneta’s Tecumseh Avenue into a river for a time Friday night.
Village Superintendent Bill Bischoff said after the storm village crews were kept busy with repairs to five houses due to trees falling on electrical lines.
There was also one branch that fell on a primary electrical line in town. Luckily, only one of Wauneta’s electrical poles was broken off due to the storm.
The high winds also took a toll on the Southwest Public Power District (SWPPD) distribution system.
SWPPD General Manager Curtis Kayton issued a statement Sunday stating SWPPD sustained damage to approximately 110 poles in its service district due to the storm.
Kayton said the epicenter of the storm seemed to be in a triangle between Palisade, Stratton and Trenton.
SWPPD requested mutual aid crews early Saturday after completing an initial damage assessment.
In his statement Kayton said some SWPPD customers were without power through Sunday afternoon, which he said was unfortunate, but necessary so the issues could be safely resolved.
Although temporary fixes made allowed SWPPD customers to have their power back, Kayton said their crews will continue to make additional repairs throughout this week to have everything back to the order seen before the storm.