June 20, 2014: Numerous Severe Storms In Nebraska...Including Baseball Size Hail in Grand Island

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June 20, 2014

Numerous Severe Storms Pound Nebraska Counties...Including Baseball Size Hail in Grand Island

To the right is a National Weather Service Radar loop, valid from 2:15 p.m. on Friday, June 20th to 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 21st.

The NWS Hastings coverage area is located within the orange outlined area labeled "GID", with the Interstate highways in red.

(Click Radar Loop To Enlarge)

Event Summary:

The afternoon and evening hours of Friday, June 20, 2014, brought numerous severe thunderstorms to Nebraska counties mainly along and west of the Highway 281 corridor in the NWS Hastings coverage area. Although no tornadoes were reported, there were many reports of large hail (some very large) and damaging winds over the course of roughly an 8-hour period starting around 3 PM in far northern counties, and lasting through around 11 PM in central areas. Although the threat of severe storms subsided after 11 PM, widespread strong thunderstorms with locally heavy rainfall continued well into the early morning hours of the 21st.

Many of the most significant storm reports received by NWS Hastings are summarized in the bulleted "highlights"/map link below this narrative, but the two most "newsworthy" events included very large hail in Grand Island and damaging winds in Hastings. Starting with Grand Island, a slow-moving supercell thunderstorm drifted over the city mainly between 630-730 PM, resulting in a prolonged period of large hail ranging from quarter all the way up to baseball size. Later in the evening, storms increased in coverage as the primary threat transitioned from large hail to damaging winds. Mainly between 945-1045 PM, a surge of damaging winds on the order of 60-76 MPH surged southward from the Wood River area into Hastings, including a measured gust of 67 MPH at Hastings airport. As a result, Hastings endured its second round of primarily tree damage and fairly minor structural damage in a week's time, as the city also endured damaging winds just six nights prior on June 14th.

As for heavy rainfall, although much of South Central Nebraska received storm total amounts ranging from around 0.50"-2.00", localized portions of primarily Clay, northern Adams, northern Hall and southern Howard counties observed more significant amounts in the 2-4" range. A few of the highest measured storm total rainfall amounts (with source) featured 4.07" four miles west-southwest of Clay Center (NeRAIN), 3.31" at the Hastings airport (automated ASOS) and 3.11" three miles east-southeast of Dannebrog (NeRAIN). This heavy rain produced generally minor, short-term flooding issues primarily involving water-covered county roads. 

In forecast hindsight, although there were expectations for at least a few severe storms to develop during the late afternoon and evening hours, this event ended up being considerably worse and longer-lasting than originally anticipated. Severe weather events such as these go to show that even "limited" expectations for severe weather should be taken seriously. Despite this era of advanced weather forecasting science and technology, there are times that Mother Nature "over-achieves" when the atmosphere becomes primed for storm development.

Several severe weather "highlights" from the event (additional reports will be added as they are received):

(PLEASE NOTE: Storm reports in the bullets and map link below do not represent ALL severe weather that occurred, only those reports received/processed by NWS Hastings. All storm reports are considered preliminary and subject to change pending final review and publication in NCDC StormData. 
  • The city of Grand Island was pounded by hail ranging from quarter to baseball size for at least 20 minutes.
  • Larger than baseball size (3.0") hail was reported 2 NW Rockville.
  • Golf ball size (1.75") hail was reported 1 NW Cairo.
  • Ping pong ball size (1.5") hail was reported 2 NE Cotesfield.
  • Quarter size (1.0") hail was reported at the following locations: Dannebrog, 4 E Cairo and 4 S Shelton.
  • Measured 76 MPH wind gust reported 1 S Wood River.
  • Measured 71 MPH wind gust near Prosser.
  • Measured 67 MPH wind gust at the Hastings Airport.
  • Measured 58 MPH wind gust at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island.
  • Estimated 60 MPH wind gust at the following locations: Cambridge, 5 NNE Litchfield and 1 SSW Boelus.
Preliminary storm reports 
(click image for interactive map)

Here are a few photos from across the area:

Hail in Grand Island.
Photo courtesy of
Travis Klanecky.

Tree/vehicle damage in Hastings.
Photo courtesy of
Beatriz Ana Marino Jachim.

Hail in Grand Island
compared to a softball.
Photo courtesy of
Breanna Morse.
Between Grand Island and Cairo.
Photo courtesy of Elli Janzen-Verba.

This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.

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