2005 Weather in Review

Significant Weather Events Across
North-Central Kansas and South-Central Nebraska in 2005

National Weather Service
Hastings, Nebraska


The year started with a winter storm that impacted the region from January 3rd through the 5th. In north-central Kansas, 5 to 9 inches of snow fell and in south-central Nebraska 6 to 14 inches of snow piled up.   Many areas saw some freezing rain and sleet at the start of this event which brought traffic to a virtual standstill.   Very cold temperatures settled in once the precipitation ended. Low temperatures dropped into the 5 to 15 below zero range.

On March 10th, central Nebraska saw a very windy day. Wind gusts of 60 to 65 mph were reported along and north of Interstate 80. A few areas lost power as the strong winds broke power lines.

The first major severe weather event and tornadoes of the spring season occurred in north-central Kansas on April 5th. Two short-lived twisters touched down in open country between Alton and Stockton and caused no damage. The storms that produced these tornadoes also dumped hail the size of half dollars and 2 to 4 inches of rain that caused some flooding in Phillips county.

The next severe weather event occurred on the 18th of April when thunderstorms brought large hail, flash flooding and a few tornadoes to south-central Nebraska.  The hardest hit area was southeast of a line from Columbus to Hastings. A couple of tornadoes were reported around the York and Fillmore county line along with hail the size of golf balls and baseballs. Damage from the hail totaled in the millions of dollars in Fillmore county alone.   The area from Polk county to Nuckolls county saw very heavy rains which caused many roads and underpasses to become flooded. The towns of Shelby, Gresham, and York reported nearly three and a half inches of rain.

May was a very active month for severe weather across south-central Nebraska.   On the 7th, severe thunderstorms brought eight tornadoes and hail up to the size of baseballs to a part of the area.   The first and most significant tornado touched down south of Holdrege and moved northeast, lifting northeast of town. The twister damaged a few farmsteads and a hanger at the Holdrege airport. The next tornado occurred briefly near Axtell. Four more tornadoes skipped across Buffalo county between Kearney and Shelton and caused some damage to outbuildings along their paths. Another twister touched down in rural Hall county north of Wood River.   The last tornado occurred east of Belgrade in Nance county, was briefly on the ground and caused no damage.   Hail stones ranging in size from golf balls to baseballs fell in the city of Kearney causing around a million dollars in damage to homes and vehicles. Nine sheriff’s deputy cars were damaged by the hail.

The next night of significant severe weather occurred on the night of May 11th. Thunderstorms ravaged a large part of south-central Nebraska with hail, high winds, catastrophic flooding and a tornado. During the evening and early morning hours, 4 to 12 inches of rain fell from Dawson county to York County. The towns of Kenesaw and Wood River measured over 11 inches of rain. The city of Grand Island saw a record breaking 7.21 inches of rain.   Many areas saw flooding with the most significant occurring in Wood River where the business district and most of the residential areas sustained flood damage. Three miles of roads were washed out in Kearney county and 15 miles of roads and 10 bridges were damaged in Merrick county. Emergency rescues of stranded people were conducted in York county, one by helicopter and another by air boat. Flood damage was in the tens of millions of dollars and was estimated to be from 12 to 15 million in Hall county alone.

Large hail, strong winds and a tornado also pounded the region. Hastings was particularly hard hit as baseball size hail and high winds belted the city for about 20 minutes. Literally, thousands of vehicles and homes sustained damage, especially on the east
side of town, including the downtown business district. Damage was estimated at 40 million dollars and over 30 people left their homes for shelters provided by the city. A tornado clipped the south side of Wood River causing damage to a house there.   Strong winds were responsible for derailing a train in Merrick county, bringing down a radio station tower and another communications tower, many center pivot irrigation systems, and causing widespread power outages in rural areas.   Both Hall and Adams counties were declared Federal Disaster Areas.

More severe thunderstorms rumbled across south-central Nebraska on the evening of the 17th. These storms brought 70 mph winds and golf ball sized hail to Dawson county. A brief tornado touched down south of Gothenburg.   Strong winds blew across Phelps county causing a few sporadic power outages. Some minor street flooding was noted in Holdrege where over 2 inches of rain fell.

June saw severe weather in both north-central Kansas and south-central Nebraska. During the evenings of the 4th and 6th, thunderstorms brought hail the size of golf balls and winds gusting to around 70 mph.   On June 9th, a supercell storm moved into Rooks county Kansas and tornadoes, hail and strong winds accompanied it. In total, four tornadoes touched down from near Palco to north of Stockton. Along their paths, damage was done to a few farmsteads, outbuildings, numerous power poles and an electrical power substation. Baseball size hail fell in Osborne county at Downs, and winds gusted to 70 mph in Smith County around Gaylord.   In south-central Nebraska, winds gusted to 80 mph in Webster county where in Red Cloud, considerable tree damage and minor structural damage was reported. Golf ball size hail was reported to have fallen for about 5 minutes near Cambridge in western Furnas county.

On the 27th of June, thunderstorms rumbled across north-central Kansas and south-central Nebraska. Hail up to 2 inches in diameter fell in Phillipsburg, Kansas and golf ball size hail was accompanied by 60 mph winds near Clarks, Nebraska. Some structural and tree damage was reported along with damage to area crops.

July saw a few hail storms during the first 9 days of the month. Damage was rather isolated but significant where it occurred.   On the 1st, golf ball sized hail in western Harlan county Nebraska damaged or destroyed nearly 20,000 acres of crops between Stamford and Orleans. On the 8th, baseball sized hail damaged corps near Farnam, Nebraska in southwest Dawson county. And on July 9th, a late morning severe thunderstorm produced 60 mph winds in Furnas county.   Power poles and large tree limbs were broken between Arapahoe and Cambridge.

On the 25th of July, strong winds were produced by severe thunderstorms in north-central Kansas and a small part of south-central Nebraska. Winds gusted to nearly 80 mph from Osborne County, Kansas to Thayer County, Nebraska. Trees were damaged, power poles snapped and pivot irrigation systems were toppled. A cemetery south of Ruskin, Nebraska had about 20 tombstones blown over or damaged by the high winds.

In Valley County, Nebraska, thunderstorms during the evening of August 3rd brought hail, strong winds and heavy rains. Tennis ball size hail was reported west of Ord and strong winds damaged crops southwest of town. Over 3 inches of rain was produced by the storms.

A strong thunderstorm on the night of August 17th, pounded Dawson, Gosper and Phelps counties of south-central Nebraska. Approximately 22,000 acres of corn and soybeans in Dawson county sustained a 90 percent loss. The local Extension Agent stated “In the heart of it, the crop was pounded to nothing.” Buildings south of Cozad sustained window, siding and shingle damage and the power plant south of Lexington had some siding ripped from the building.   There were several reports of center pivot, grain bin, farmstead, tree, and vehicle damage along the storm’s path.

Heavy rains fell during the evening of August 22nd in southern Mitchell County, Kansas. Three to 5 inches of rain fell in the Hunter area. This resulted in water flowing over county roads and highways.

Severe thunderstorms rolled across parts of Gosper, Phelps and Furnas counties during the evening of September 5th to round out the Labor Day weekend. Northwest Phelps county was hit particularly hard with hail the size of golf balls driven by 70 mph winds. A 90 year old barn and grain bin was destroyed north of Bertrand. Vehicles were also damaged by the hail, including a Gosper County sheriff’s car. About six sections of corn and soybeans were severely damaged and stripped badly in some fields. Anywhere from 2 to 5 inches of rain fell in the area. The heavy rains caused some flooding and crop damage.

The last significant severe weather event occurred on September 12th.   Two brief tornadoes were reported in Valley County, Nebraska north of Ord.   These twisters were out in open country and caused no damage. Hail up to 2 inches in diameter fell in Adams County, Nebraska and caused some damage near Roseland.   A funnel cloud was reported southwest of Phillipsburg, Kansas and hail the size of half dollars fell in southern Phillips County, Kansas near Logan.

The first storm of the new winter season brought blizzard conditions at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend to south-central Nebraska and parts of north-central Kansas. Snows of 3 to 8 inches were accompanied by 40 to 60 mph winds.   The combination of snow and wind shut down travel, schools and businesses from November 27th to the 29th. Many highways, including Interstate 80, were closed for several hours until the high drifts of snow could be cleared.

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