Thunderstorms Brought Freezing Rain and Sleet

Thunderstorms brought significant freezing rain and sleet to parts of western and north central Nebraska on Saturday night.  The most significant freezing rain fell over north central Nebraska, where an inch of it accumulated 3 miles southwest of Atkinson and 3/4 inches accumulated in Butte. Several other locations reported a quarter inch or more of freezing rain.  Lightning and thunder occurred with temperatures at or below freezing because relatively warm and humid air moved into the region a few thousand feet above the ground, and above the cold air near the surface.  This meant that the thunderstorms were able to produce a wide variety of precipitation, including freezing rain.

The weather scenario that caused this unique event featured a low pressure system that strengthened as it moved from northeastern Colorado into northwestern Kansas. The system transported significant moisture northward into the High Plains, where it interacted with an arctic cold front that was in place across the region. Some snow also fell on the cold side of that front over northwestern and north central Nebraska.

 Shown above is a satellite image from 1:30 a.m. CST on Sunday morning, February 20, 2011. The image shows cloud tops as cold as -72 degrees Celsius (-98 degrees Fahrenheit!). Temperatures that cold are usually only seen with summertime thunderstorms. In this case, the storms occurred in late winter, and brought freezing rain and sleet with them. The small lines on top of the image represent lightning strikes.

 

 Listed below are the freezing rain, sleet, and snowfall reports received by the National Weather Service for locations in western and north central Nebraska.

 

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FREEZING RAIN REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT
  INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME /CST/
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- ----------
1.00 3 SW ATKINSON NE HOLT 0230 AM
0.75 BUTTE NE BOYD 0300 PM
0.50 THEDFORD NE THOMAS 1040 AM
0.33 TAYLOR NE LOUP 1200 PM
0.25 9 NW ANSELMO NE CUSTER 0115 AM
0.25 DUNNING NE BLAINE 0130 AM
0.25 AINSWORTH NE BROWN 0130 AM
0.25 11 SE SPRINGVIEW NE KEYA PAHA 0200 AM
0.25 BASSETT NE ROCK 0200 AM
0.25 LYNCH NE BOYD 0300 AM
0.22 2 E NORTH PLATTE NE LINCOLN 0220 AM
0.20 5 W STAPLETON NE LOGAN 0830 AM
0.19 3 S GRANT NE PERKINS 0800 AM
0.13 2 W OGALLALA NE KEITH 0800 AM
0.10 10 NE OSHKOSH NE GARDEN 0940 AM
0.10 MULLEN NE HOOKER 0730 AM
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SLEET REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT
INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME /CST/
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- ----------
0.85 MULLEN NE HOOKER 0730 AM
0.70 VALENTINE NE CHERRY 0550 AM
0.50 BASSETT NE ROCK 0200 AM
0.20 5 W STAPLETON NE LOGAN 0830 AM
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SNOW REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT
INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME /CST/
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- ----------
5.00 AINSWORTH NE BROWN 0600 PM
2.00 29 S VALENTINE NE CHERRY 1100 AM
2.00 6 N GORDON NE SHERIDAN 1245 PM
1.50 VALENTINE NE CHERRY 1145 AM
     

 

 

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