Tornadoes, flash flooding and giant hail on Sunday Evening, June 22nd


 

1. Event overview

During the late afternoon and evening of June 22, 2003, severe storms produced tornadoes and destructive flooding in Thayer and Jewell counties and giant hail in Hamilton County. The storms initiated in conjunction with an intensifying low level jet that developed during the evening along an outflow boundary that had developed earlier Sunday morning in association with convection across northern Nebraska. Extreme instability developed during the afternoon Sunday as a result of continued deep moisture advection originating from the Gulf of Mexico, intense surface heating, and strong wind shear. Two primary supercells formed, one across northern and central Hamilton county, and another over Thayer, Jewell and Republic counties.

An F0 tornado touched down at 635 pm several miles west of Deshler in Thayer county and tracked east and dissipated just northwest of town at 650 pm. A second F2 tornado developed at 652 pm near the southeast side of town and then tracked west through the south side of Deshler and then turned southwest before dissipating around 705 pm...see map.  Unfortunately one fatality (the first tornado related fatality in Nebraska since 1988) and 7 injuries occurred with this second tornado in Deshler. In addition over 100 homes were damaged including 20 destroyed. 9 businesses were damaged or destroyed. This tornadic supercell remained stationary for several hours over  Thayer county which led to tremendous rainfall  as shown here in our WSR-88D Storm Total Precipitation estimate (official measurements as high as 10.62 inches at Lovewell dam and unofficial measurements of 12.5 inches in Hebron) which led to significant flooding over much of Thayer county.

In Aurora in Hamilton county, giant hail fell across the west and northwest side of town. Hailstones were reported to be the size of volleyballs...which was not far from the truth given the enormous impact craters left in the ground...some as large as 12 inches and over 3 inches deep on grass lawns. One gentleman risked life and limb to grab the largest known hailstone to fall in Nebraska by grabbing this monster, which had a diameter of 6.5 inches, circumference of 17 3/8 inches and weighed 1.33 pounds. Another stone hit his garage, punching this large hole in the structure. Incredible indeed.

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies has developed an interesting page with satellite data and sounding data from Omaha and North Platte concerning this event.
 

 

The following analyzed surface map depicts general meteorological conditions across the region, at 3 PM local time (Fig. 1). Surface map image available Friday June 27th.

 

Fig. 1. Surface map for 3 PM 22 June 2003 with subjectively analyzed mean sea level pressure (solid) contoured every 1 mb. Standard station model used; temperature and dewpoint (°F), pressure (mb), 3-h pressure tendenc (mb), and sky conditions reported. Winds in knots with one full barb, and one half barb equal to 10, and 5 knots, respectively. Pertinent surface features depicted.

This visible satellite image at 325 pm LST shows the distinct outflow boundary from Fig.1 running from just east of Aurora to near Concordia. Note the wave clouds to the east of this boundary across eastern Nebraska indicative of strong low level shear with 35 knots noted at 1250 meters above ground at the Fairbury wind profiler (red wind barb, center of image).

 

Fig. 2. Visible image prior to convective initiation. Valid at 325 pm local, 22 June 2003.

The Deshler tornado (photo courtesy of Steve Fintel) and Thayer county flooding was associated with this very large supercell thunderstorm (Storm B) that developed over southwest Thayer county, along the cool side (east) of the surface outflow boundary (Fig. 3). The storm moved little for several hours impacting nearly all of Thayer, northeast Jewell and northern Republic counties, with very heavy rain, strong winds, and at times, hail up to and exceeding 2.5 inches.

Fig. 3. Radar base reflectivity of Storm B as it continued to  develop over Thayer county, note also the intense supercell (Storm A) over Aurora at the top of the image. Valid at  6:58 PM local, 22 June 2003.

The large hail that fell in Aurora was associated with a supercell thunderstorm (Storm A) that developed near Giltner, along the cool side (east) of the surface outflow boundary (Fig. 4). The storm moved northeast at ~5 mph impacting most of central and northern Hamilton county and northern York county, with heavy rain, strong winds, and at times, hail up to and exceeding 4.5 inches.

Fig. 4. Composite reflectivity of Storm A. Green triangles indicate hail algorithm derived size. Giant hailstones were being ejected out the backside of the main updraft over northwest York county and falling at this time in Aurora. Image valid at 7:48 PM local, 22 June 2003.

On June 23 and 25, 2003, the Hastings National Weather Service Office conducted  damage surveys documenting the size of the hail and  damage in the city of Aurora. The largest stone found on June 23 is shown here (Fig.5a) which measured 6.5 inches in diameter, 17 3/8 inches in circumference and a certified weight of 1.33 pounds. Larger hailstones were reported and verified on June 25 with this hailstone measuring 7.0 inches in diameter and a 18 3/4 inch circumference shown here (Fig.5b). Many very large impact craters were noted in some yards, with the largest measuring 12 inches wide and 3 inches deep (Fig. 6 & 7)

 




Fig. 5a & b. NWS Hastings pictures of the giant hailstones documented to have fallen in Aurora.

Fig. 6 & 7. NWS Hastings pictures of a large impact crater in a residents yard.

 

The following reports are preliminary.   Official storm reports are located in Storm Data.

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HASTINGS NE
ZCZC OMALSRGID ALL
TTAA00 KGID DDHHMM

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HASTINGS NE
635 AM CDT MON JUN 23 2003

...EVENT SUMMARY FOR 06-22-2003...

TIME(LST)  .....CITY LOCATION..... STATE  ...EVENT/REMARKS...
           ....COUNTY LOCATION....

0500 PM    GRAND IS                  NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HALL                           ONE INCH HAIL OVER
                                          FONNER VIEW GOLFCOURSE.
                                          REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0502 PM    1 E GRAND IS              NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HALL                           REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0515 PM    3 S GILTNER               NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HAMILTON                       REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0528 PM    DESHLER                   NE   2.75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0540 PM    1 W DESHLER               NE   TORNADO
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0544 PM    1 W AURORA                NE   1.25 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HAMILTON

0554 PM    8 SW DESHLER              NE   TORNADO
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0600 PM    AURORA                    NE   2.75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HAMILTON                       REPORTED BY EMERGENCY
                                          MANAGEMENT.

0605 PM    AURORA                    NE   4.5 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HAMILTON                       REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0620 PM    DESHLER                   NE   TORNADO
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0625 PM    BRADSHAW                  NE   1.75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   YORK

0629 PM    DESHLER                   NE   TORNADO
06/22/03   THAYER                         CONSIDERABLE STRUCTURAL
                                          DAMAGE. TREES DOWN AND
                                          ELECTRICITY OUT. DEBRIS
                                          IN THE AIR. INJURIES
                                          REPORTED.

0630 PM    2 SW CARLETON             NE   1.5 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY COOPERATIVE
                                          OBSERVER.

0700 PM    5 SW BENEDICT             NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   YORK                           REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0710 PM    7 NW HEBRON               NE   .75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0715 PM    SHICKLEY                  NE   .88 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   FILLMORE                       REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0721 PM    4 N ST PAUL               NE   .75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HOWARD                         REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0730 PM    3 N BRADSHAW              NE   TORNADO
06/22/03   YORK                           REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0730 PM    HEBRON                    NE   70+ MPH TSTM GUST
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY FIRE AND
                                          RESCUE.  100 YEAR OLD
                                          TREES DOWN IN DESHLER.

0745 PM    1 S SHICKLEY              NE   60 MPH TSTM GUST
06/22/03   FILLMORE                       POWER LINES DOWN.

0800 PM    SPALDING                  NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   GREELEY                        REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0806 PM    7 W FULLERTON             NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   NANCE                          WALL CLOUD 7 MILES WEST
                                          OF FULLERTON.

0806 PM    STRANG                    NE   FLOOD
06/22/03   FILLMORE                       DEEP WATER ON HIGHWAY
                                          THROUGH STRANG.

0820 PM    EDGAR                     NE   70 MPH TSTM GUST
06/22/03   CLAY                           TREE LIMBS DOWN.

0830 PM    FULLERTON                 NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   NANCE                          REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0835 PM    1 S FULLERTON             NE   TORNADO
06/22/03   NANCE                          REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0855 PM    AURORA                    NE   4.5 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   HAMILTON                       REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER. HOLES IN
                                          NEIGHBORS ROOF BIG
                                          ENOUGH TO CRAWL THROUGH.

0855 PM    HEBRON                    NE   FLOOD
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY FIRE AND
                                          RESCUE.  FLOODING NORTH
                                          AND WEST OF HEBRON ON
                                          HIGHWAY 81 AND 136.
                                          CARS STALLED IN WATER.

0855 PM    8 SW STOCKTON             KS   .75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   ROOKS                          REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0930 PM    DESHLER                   NE   TORNADO
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY FIRE AND
                                          RESCUE.  2 CONFIRMED
                                          INJURIES WITH EARLIER
                                          STORM WEST OF DESHLER.

0930 PM    4 NW LOVEWELL             KS   .75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   JEWELL                         REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.
                                          14 DEGREE TEMPERATURE
                                          DROP IN 5 MINUTES.

0930 PM    ONG                       NE   60+ MPH TSTM GUST
06/22/03   CLAY                           REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.
                                          LARGE TREES UPROOTED.

0930 PM    DESHLER                   NE   FLOOD
06/22/03   THAYER                         REPORTED BY FIRE AND
                                          RESCUE.  ROAD FLOODING
                                          WEST OF DESHLER.

0945 PM    LOVEWELL RES              KS   1 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   JEWELL                         REPORTED BY COOPERATIVE
                                          OBSERVER.


0950 PM    EDGAR                     NE   60+ MPH TSTM GUST
06/22/03   CLAY                           REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.
                                          EIGHT INCH BRANCHES
                                          BROKEN.

1059 PM    MANKATO                   KS   .75 INCH HAIL
06/22/03   JEWELL                         REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

1207 AM    13 N AGRA                 KS   TORNADO
06/23/03   PHILLIPS                       REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

1232 AM    2 S FRANKLIN              NE   .75 INCH HAIL
06/23/03   FRANKLIN                       REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

1233 AM    FORMOSO                   KS   1 INCH HAIL
06/23/03   JEWELL                         REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

1245 AM    12 NNW SMITH CENTER       KS   TORNADO
06/23/03   SMITH                          BRIEF TORNADO. REPORTED
                                          BY LAW ENFORCEMENT
                                          OFFICIAL.

1250 AM    5 NW REAMSVILLE           KS   TORNADO
06/23/03   SMITH                          TWO BRIEF TORNADOES.
                                          JUST EAST OF HIGHWAY 8.
                                          REPORTED BY LAW
                                          ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL.

0122 AM    HOLDREGE                  NE   .75 INCH HAIL
06/23/03   PHELPS                         REPORTED BY STORM
                                          SPOTTER.

0155 AM    HOLSTEIN                  NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/23/03   ADAMS                          REPORTED BY EMERGENCY
                                          MANAGEMENT.

0225 AM    HEBRON                    NE   FLOOD
06/23/03   THAYER                         MASS EVACUATIONS IN
                                          PROGRESS ACROSS
                                          SOUTHERN HEBRON ALONG
                                          THE LITTLE BLUE RIVER.
                                          MANY ROADS CLOSED OR
                                          IMPASSABLE. REPORTED BY
                                          EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT.

0235 AM    PROSSER                   NE   .75 INCH HAIL
06/23/03   ADAMS                          REPORTED BY EMERGENCY
                                          MANAGEMENT.

0530 AM    ELYRIA                    NE   1 INCH HAIL
06/23/03   VALLEY                         REPORTED BY PUBLIC.

0630 AM    LOVEWELL RES              KS   FLOOD
06/23/03   JEWELL                         BELOW DAM FLOODING.
                                          COUNTY ROADS UNDER
                                          WATER. REPORTED BY
                                          COOPERATIVE OBSERVER.

                                         

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

A sincere thank you to the kind people of Aurora, for their assistance in the hail and damage survey. And a big thank you to Al Pietrycha for his detailed surface analysis graphic.

Web page and graphics produced by Todd Holsten


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