2012 sees first February tornado recorded in Nebraska.
“A rare set-up for severe weather across the Central Plains produced the first-ever documented February tornadoes in Nebraska and started off the 2012 severe weather season on the 28th of that month,” says the official 2012 Nebraska Severe Weather Summary distributed by the National Weather Service at Hastings. “In Greeley County, an EF0 tornado with estimated 70 mph winds tracked along a very short path four miles west of Greeley, overturning an irrigation pivot.”
March was a quiet month and one of the warmest on record for Thayer County, but in mid-April, severe weather struck as the state experienced one of the busiest severe weather days of the year. Four brief tornadoes were confirmed on April 14th; three occurred in the mid-afternoon in Thayer and Nuckolls counties.
The Lyle Olson farm located one mile north of Alexandria lost a two-year old storage bin and the roof to a shed as the storm passed over. Trees were also damaged and two pivots located near the farm were flipped over. Also, a brief tornado was spotted by a storm chaser two miles east of Deshler and another was spotted five miles southwest of Byron, but no damage was reported with either.
Although storms continued to track across the state, Thayer County went virtually unscathed until May 2 when heavy rain, very large hail and an EF1 twister with estimated winds of 105 mph, struck the Randy Williams home along the border of the Fillmore/Thayer County line near Davenport. Williams’ house, garage and vehicle were damaged in the storm, and a grain bin was completely destroyed.
The last week of May, specifically May 23rd, witnessed perfect conditions for a parade of severe thunderstorms. Discovery Channel storm chasers arrived in Hebron to watch the skies as the cells began to develop. The storms eventually produced large hail carried on 70 mph wind gusts, but not in Thayer County. Four days later, on Memorial Day weekend, storms again threatened to descend on the area, but hit hard to the north dropping hail up to the size of golf balls in Geneva, Franklin Blue Hill and along Interstate 80 near York.
Mid-June, while evidence of drought was beginning to emerge, a series of thunderstorms brought much needed rain to the area; however, Thayer County would not see severe weather again until September. On September 4, wind gusts of 60-65 mph knocked down the new golf cart shed which was under construction at the Hebron Country Club. The storm ended Thayer County’s spring and summer severe weather season.
Nebraska had 44 confirmed reports for tornadoes during the 2012 season; two above the 1950 to 2012 average of 42 and nine below the 30-year average of 53).
There were no deaths, but five people suffered injuries in the April 14 storm in Lincoln County near North Platte.
The longest track for a tornado last year measured 15.14 miles on April 14 in Lincoln County and the greatest width was 440 yards or 1/4 of a mile on that same day in Johnson County near Cook.
The strongest tornados were two EF3s occurring on March 18 in Lincoln County near North Platte and that same county received the most twisters of any other county with 12 over the season.
Nebraskans saw 13 days during the storm season that had one or more tornadoes with April 14 as the most active day; 19 tornadoes were confirmed on that day. April is still the most active month for tornadoes in Nebraska. (Records date back to 1950.)
The National Weather Service has declared March 25-29 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska. This week, and really the whole month, gives those who live in Nebraska the opportunity to review the Service’s as well as their own severe weather plans, brush up on severe weather terms and participate in the statewide tornado warning drill on Wednesday, March 27.
As part of its outreach, the service continues to use social media, striving to have a strong presence on both Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to follow them on either, go to the homepage of the office you want to follow and click on both logos in the upper left hand corner of the page.
The weather service serving Thayer County is National Weather Service 6365 North Osborne Drive West Hastings, Nebraska, 68901, 402-462-4287 http://www.weather.gov/gid.
Last year the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) service was set up. The service automatically transmits warnings and alerts to anyone with a cell phone with texting capabilities. The program was created through the wireless industry, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the alerts come in the way of texts, are free and don’t require a special application. Users will only receive the emergency alerts if they are in the threat area or if they travel into an alert area after the alert was originally sent. Each alert is only displayed once.
The purpose of WEA is to notify wireless users of severe weather threats in their area. When the NWS issues certain weather warnings, cell towers will broadcast the alert to cell users in the threat area. The service is not subscription based and it does not track a user’s location.