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County skates through 2010 with no tornadoes

Nebraska had 38 tornadoes last year and while Thayer County was spared, our neighbors to both the east and west weren’t so lucky.

Jefferson County had the first tornado of 2010, an EF1 on April 29, and coincidently, the last tornado of the year, an EF0 on September 13.

Nuckolls County saw the widest tornado in the state for 2010; a 1300-yard monster that hit Superior on June 20. With wind speeds estimated at 120 mph, the tornado caused significant tree damage, downed transmission lines, and overturned railroad cars. A warehouse and other small buildings were also destroyed. Interestingly enough, the EF2 storm tied with Keya Paha County for the strongest tornadoes of the season.

The National Weather Service is once again gearing up for the 2010 severe weather season by holding seminars, workshops and awareness clinics as they look to the sky. Last week during Severe Weather Awareness Week, warning sirens were tested and special weather-related events were held.

As part of its outreach, the NWS informs the public through several media about thunderstorm safety including severe weather terms, guidelines for safety during weather-related emergencies, and safe storm spotting techniques.

Although 2010 was considered a quiet year for south central and southeast Nebraska, the season kicked off in April with a couple of hailstorms, but it wasn’t until May 6 when several locations near the Kansas border saw hail up to the size of golf balls and wind gusts near 70 mph. Reports from Chester included downed tree branches and damage to an empty grain bin.

Extremely powerful straight-line winds seemed to rule most storms in the area during June, July and August. On June 20th, while Superior was suffering through its tornado, Geneva was hit with 70 mph winds causing power outages, substantial tree damage, and some structural damage. Quarter sized hail was also reported and rain exceeding two inches fell.

On August 23, a slow moving thunderstorm resulted in locally very heavy rainfall and some flooding. The Little Blue River near Deweese went into flood, and pockets of heavy rain between three and five inches were reported in Clay, Franklin and Thayer counties.

Of the 38 tornadoes touching down across the state, 31, or 82 percent, were EF0 sized, the majority hitting in June (17), May (8) and July (5). The last tornado of the season in Jefferson County was also an EF0. There were five EF1 tornadoes and two EF2 tornadoes in 2010 and June was the popular month recording 22 of the total 38 twisters to hit; the most in one day was seven on June 7.

The most active time of the day for tornadoes to hit in 2010 was from 6-7 p.m. Nine funnels touched down during that particular hour in the 19 days of occurrences. Kimball and Scottsbluff counties had the most tornadoes with five each, and Scottsbluff suffered a 19-mile scar from one storm, the longest track for 2010.

There were no severe weather related deaths or injuries reported in Nebraska last year.

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