2008 - A Summary of Tornadoes and Significant Weather Events for the Area

The following is a summary of significant weather events of 2008 which impacted south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. These events were reported to the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska by a variety of sources, including the general public, cooperative observers, local law enforcement, local media and other sources. Links to web stories with more information about some of the events are included. A summary of tornadoes reported for 2008 is included below.


January-February | March-April | May-June | July-August | September-October | November-December

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Tornadoes 2008 - Last year was a very busy year for tornadoes across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas with 35 total tornadoes reported. For comparison, only six tornadoes were reported across the area in 2007. The vast majority of tornado events in 2008 occurred on May 29 when several supercell thunderstorms spawned over twenty tornadoes across the area. On that day, an EF3 tornado devastated much of Jewell, Kansas, while a large supercell charted its course along Interstate 80 from Elm Creek to York in south central Nebraska.


 2008 Tornado Summary for south central Nebraska and north central Kansas

April 24
1.6 miles east of the Stockton, KS Airport
0.10 miles  25 yards
EF0 0 0
April 24
3.5 miles south of Woodston, KS
0.10 miles 10 yards EF0 0 0

April 24

3.7 miles north of Beloit, KS airport to 2.1 miles north northeast of Scottsville, KS
10.93 miles 1050 yards EF2 0 0
May 23
6.8 miles south of Zurich, KS to 4.2 miles south of Zurich, KS
2.39 miles 200 yards EF1 0 0
May 23
2.1 miles east of Plainville, KS to 2.1 miles northeast of Codell, KS
6.15 miles 1005 yards EF1 0 0
May 29
3.5 miles southwest of Palco, KS to 3.1 miles southeast of Palco, KS 1.75 miles 200 yards EF1 0 0
 May 29  0.3 miles northwest of Woodston, KS to 0.3 miles northeast of Woodston, KS 0.38 miles   25 yards   EF1   0   0
 May 29 2.4 miles southwest of Zurich, KS to 2.1 miles west of Zurich, KS 0.35 miles 10 yards  EF0  0  0
May 29 3.1 miles east of Zurich, KS to 3.5 miles of Plainville, KS 0.60 miles  20 yards  EF0  0  0
May 29 2.8 miles southwest of Conrinth, KS to 3.1 miles east of Corinth, KS 5.34 miles 200 yards EF0 0 0
 May 29 5.9 miles north of Tipton, KS to 1.9 miles south of Glen Elder, KS 10.62 miles 400 yards  EF1  0  0
 May 29  2.3 miles southwest of Glen Elder, KS to 5.6 miles northeast of Glen Elder, KS 7.90 miles 2000 yards  EF2  0 0
May 29 0.9 miles north of Solomon Rapids, KS to 6.7 miles north of the Beloit, KS Airport 7.05 miles 200 yards  EF0 0 0
May 29 8.6 miles southwest of Jewell, KS to 2.4 miles northeast of Jewell, KS  11.01 miles 2000 yards  EF3  0  0
May 29 5.9 miles southwest of Randall, KS to 3.6 miles southwest of Randall, KS 2.79 miles

100 yards

EF0  0 0
May 29 4.6 miles southeast of Formoso, KS to 4.8 miles southeast of Formoso, KS 2.33 miles 100 yards EF0  0 0
May 29 6.8 miles southwest of Elwood, NE to 1.4 miles northwest of Elwood, NE 6.11 miles 100 yards  EF0 0  0
 May 29 2.9 miles northeast of Smithfield, NE to 5.0 miles northeast of Smithfield, NE 2.18 miles 100 yards  EF0 0  0
May 29 5.8 miles north of Bertrand, NE to 8.0 south of Odessa, NE 18.68 miles 400 yards  EF0 0  0
 May 29 12.6 miles north of Funk, NE to  13.7  miles northeast of Funk, NE  1.77 miles 100 yards  EF2 0 0
May 29 4.0 east of Odessa, NE to 1.0 miles southeast of Kearney Airport
12.29 miles 100 yards EF0 0  0
 May 29 4.1 miles west of Kearney, NE to 0.2 miles northwest of Shelton, NE 25.59 miles 100 yards EF1 0 0
 May 29 2.3 miles northwest of Kearney, NE to 1.8 miles northeast of Shelton, NE 21.75 miles  400 yards EF2  0 0
 May 29  6.5 miles west of Wood River, NE to 4.6 miles northeast of Wood River, NE 9.88 miles 100 yards EF0  0  0
May 29 1.3 miles northeast of Murphy, NE to 1.5 miles northwest of Aurora, NE
3.61 miles 100 yards EF0 0  0
 May 29 2.0 miles southwest of Aurora, NE to 0.4 miles northeast of Hampton, NE 7.60 miles 1000 yards EF2 0 0
May 29 1.4 miles east of Thayer, NE to 4.6 miles northeast of Waco, NE 4.12 miles 25 yards EF0  0  0
 May 29 1.2 miles south of Hubbell, NE to 5.5 miles southeast of Gilead, NE 8.36 miles 150 yards EF1 0 0
June 4 5.2 northeast of Dannevirke, NE to 5.2 miles west of Cotesfield, NE 3.61 miles 25 yards EF0 0 0
June 4 Near Bertrand 0.10 miles 25 yards EF0 0 0
 June 4 0.9 miles southwest of Bloomington, KS 0.10 miles  50 yards EF0 0 0
June 4 1.1 miles west of Smithfield, NE 0.10 miles 25 yards EF0 0 0
June 7 2.8 miles south of Portis, KS 0.10 miles  50 yards EF0 0 0
June 7 5.2 miles southeast of Harlan, KS 0.10 miles 50 yards  EF0 0 0
 June 23  6.4 miles southwest of Cozad, NE to 3.3 miles southwest of Darr, NE 5.06 miles  75 yards  EF0 0  0


January - February

The start of 2008 was relatively quiet weather-wise as only light snow amounts were reported in January. However, temperatures were still below normal, thanks to at least a few inches of snow on the ground. A bit heavier snow was measured across the region in early February.

  • January 9-10:  A light snowfall of 1 to 3 inches started the New Year off.  Click here for a storm summary.
  • Snow Rollers:  After the snowfall of the 9th and 10th, gusty northwest winds formed an unusual meteorological phenomena called snow rollers. Snow rollers form when strong winds cause blowing snow which eventually forms into a small snowball. The snowball gets bigger as it rolls along the ground. Click here to learn more about snow rollers.
  • January 26:  Though there wasn't a whole lot of snow on the ground, there was enough for portions of the area to approach records for 1, 2 and 3 inches of snow cover for a continuous period. Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney all reported at least 1" of snow on the ground for over 50 days as of late January, but would fall short of all-time records. Click here for more information about snow cover records set in the area.
  • February 5:  A widespread snowfall occurred across the area with amounts ranging from 2 to 8 inches. The heavier amounts were reported along and south of Highway 6 in south central Nebraska, and across all of north central Kansas. In these areas, 5 to 8 inches was common, including 7.7 inches at Hastings. Click here for a snow map and snow totals.

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March - April

The change of seasons meant wrapping up a colder than normal winter, before transitioning into a wet spring. Winter tried to hold on in early April with 1 to 5 inches of snow in parts of south central Nebraska, but a long-track, nighttime tornado near Beloit, KS toward the end of April turned thoughts toward severe weather rather abruptly. 

  • March 13:  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the period from December 2007 through February 2008 was the coolest winter period since 2001 for the nation and the globe. Read more here.
  • April 10: An early April snow of 1 to 5 inches put a damper on spring for a short time. The heavier snow amounts fell from Ord to Cozad, Nebraska. Click here for a storm summary.
  • April 14Satellite imagery provided a unique look at the lingering snow cover in Nebraska, but also a keen view of the smoke spreading north into the region from several rangeland fires in southeast Kansas. 
  • April 16-17:  April was a wet month for most of the region, including a fairly widespread 1 to 2 inch rainfall on April 16th and 17th. The rain was welcome after a dry March, and pushed yearly totals to right around normal. Click here for maps and rainfall summaries.
  • April 24-25:  Severe weather struck north central Kansas in the form of large hail, high winds and tornadoes. A significant EF2 tornado rumbled across northern Mitchell County for 15 miles shortly after midnight the night of April 24. This tornado was on the ground for 35 minutes.   At one point, the tornado was 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide. See the tornado damage survey for more information.  Hail to the size of softballs was reported in the Stockton, KS area.  Click here for a storm report summary.

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May - June

"Wet-n-Wild" probably described May and June of 2008 the best. Clearly, the most significant event of the spring, and the year for that matter, was an outbreak of tornadoes on  May 29. After a short break, severe weather returned again by the 4th and 5th of June.  The stormy weather continued right through June and wrapped up with flooding problems for parts of the area.

  • May 22-24:  Heavy rainfall drenched south central Nebraska and north central Kansas with every location picking up at least one inch of rain and much of the region coming in with 3 to 7 inches of rain. The city of Cozad recorded just over 7" of rain and experienced widespread and damaging flooding throughout town. The list of rain reports over 3" is too long to list, so check out the rainfall totals in this short web story.
  • May 29: An outbreak of tornadoes pounded the entire region the afternoon and evening of the 29th. No less than 23 tornadoes were reported on this day, including a very damaging EF3 tornado at Jewell, KS, an EF2 tornado south of Aurora, NE and tornadoes and damaging winds around Kearney, NE. See the following links to check out individual events.
    1. Kearney, NE area storm survey
    2. Aurora, NE tornado survey
    3. Jewell, KS tornado survey
    4. Rooks County, KS tornado survey
    5. Thayer County, NE tornado survey                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • June 4-5: A two-day barrage of severe weather impacted many and spared few across the area. Large hail, heavy rain, damaging winds and even a few tornadoes were reported. On June 4th, there were about three dozen reports of severe weather across south central Nebraska. On June 5th, the main swath of severe weather shifted a little further south and handed parts of north central Kansas a heavy blow. See the June 4th storm summary here and the June 5th storm summary here. 
  • June 20: A batch of strong to severe thunderstorms dropped hail and produced strong winds over a part of south central Nebraska. Check out the storm summary and some pictures.
  • June - Heavy Rainfall: The first six months of the year turned out to be one of the wetter periods on record for some areas. Grand Island, NE recorded over 21" of rain which was the wettest first 6 months of the year. Check out the table of precipitation reports for several locations through mid-June.

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July - August

The doldrums of summer were punctuated with several heavy rain events across the region. As each event occurred, reports of 2 to 6 inches of rain became more and more common. Severe weather was fairly limited, although there was no shortage of "baseballs" in Prairie View, Kansas on July 26th.

  • July 5:  Early morning thunderstorms dumped heavy rain and hail across areas of south central Nebraska, mainly along and east of U.S. Highway 81. Hail to the size of golf balls fell around Benedict and as much as 5 inches of rain fell in the Waco area. Click here for reports and some photos.
  • July 15-17:  A couple rounds of heavy rain managed to cover most of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas during this two-day stretch. There were several reports of 2 to 3 inches of rain from two different rain events. Images of Storm Total precipitation can be found here for July 15th and July 17th. For the Hastings area, the 4.40" of rain which fell was the highest two-day rain total in 18 years. 
  • July 26:  A large severe thunderstorm in Phillips county Kansas dumped baseball size hail on Prairie View. You can click here for a radar image and explanation.
  • August 6-7:  The summer of heavy rain events continued, this time with over 5 inches of rain reported south of U.S. Highway 24 in north central Kansas. Damar was the winner and reported 5.65" of rain. A swath of 3 to 6 inches of rain fell from the Damar area southeast along the Paradise Creek Valley toward Natoma. See the Storm Total Precipitation image.
  • August 23-24:  As August came to a close, the heavy rainfall was not finished. This time the heaviest rain fell from the Harlan Lake area of south central Nebraska, south through Phillipsburg, KS and down to Osborne and Stockton. There were several occurrences of flooding with the widespread 3 to 6 inch rainfall. The topper was near Oxford, where 5.81" of rain fell northwest of town. See the rain totals here

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September - October

This period was dominated by a record breaking wet October. After a cool spring and summer, corn harvest was already behind schedule and that situation was exacerbated in October thanks to an average of 5 to 10 inches of rain. Of all the Cooperative Observer Stations in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas, roughly 90% reported a record monthly rainfall.

  • September - Summer Cooler than Normal:  Average temperatures across the United States were above normal for the summer, with one exception: The Corn Belt. Regional average temperatures from Nebraska and Kansas east to Illinois failed to reach the warmth experienced in the south, mainly thanks to several periods of excessive rainfall. Click here for a national recap.
  • October 7:  A narrow strip of 3 to 5 inches of rain fell along a line from west of Franklin, Nebraska to southwest of Greeley, Nebraska. As much as 5 inches of rain was measured in Minden from the storm. Outside of the heaviest rain area, a solid 1 to 2 inches of rain fell at this most inopportune time.
  • October 11-15:  The rain just kept on coming, this time with the heaviest rainfall a little further south, but overall there was a widespread 1 to 3 inches throughout the area. In Kansas, Plainville, Smith Center and Logan all reported over 3 inches of rain. Franklin, NE also reported over 3 inches of rain.  For a list of rain reports, click here.
  • October 21-23:  The corn harvest was lengthened a bit more with a big rain event in late October. Rainfall was measured in inches again, with 3 to 4 inches of rain common from York, NE to Beaver City, NE and Phillipsburg, KS. Just west of York, Bradshaw, NE recorded 4.33" of rain.  In north central Kansas, almost 5 inches of rain fell in Logan. On the tail end of the precipitation event, 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulated west of a line from Greeley, NE to Minden, NE.  Click here for rain and snow maps.
  • October -Record Breaking Rain:  October 2008 went down in the record books as the wettest October on record for nearly all the reporting stations in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. In Minden, NE, an incredible 11.64" of rain fell, which shattered the old record by more than 4 inches.  No less than nine locations reported over 7 inches of rain. See the record breaking rainfall totals for month.

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November - December

November was relatively calm in terms of significant weather events, but December made up for things with several events and a lengthy period of well below normal temperatures during the middle of the month.

  • December 8-9: Areas north of Interstate 80 in south central Nebraska measured 1 to 4 inches of new snow. The heaviest amounts were in Polk County, where 3 to 4 inches was common. Take a look at the snowfall map.
  • December 15: A mid-month cold spell was in full force across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. Overnight low temperatures were well below zero across the region, and were the coldest for the date since a record cold blast in 1989. Click here to see some of the frigid temperatures.
  • December 16: A generally light snowfall of 1 to 4 inches fell from west to east across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas during the morning hours of December 16th. Click here for a snow amount map.
  • December 18: The biggest snow of the 2008 snow season to date dropped up to 10 inches of new snow in some areas. The vast majority of snow fell across south central Nebraska and north of Highway 36 in north central Kansas. The heaviest snow fell north of Grand Island, in a swath from around Ravenna, to Ashton and North Loup, and then through Greeley to Spalding. Eight to ten inches was common in that area. Lesser amounts, generally in the 2 to 5 inches range, were noted elsewhere. See the snow accumulations.
  • December 23-24: A pre-Christmas Eve light snowfall allowed just a few more places in the area to experience a white Christmas.
  • December - Top 20 Coldest December: A 10 to 14 day cold snap positioned itself across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas around mid-December. With snow on the ground, there were many mornings with temperatures well below zero. There were several days with strong winds along with the extreme cold, which resulted in dangerous wind chills. Fortunately, the cold spell broke on Christmas Day, with temperatures soaring into the 50s and 60s on December 26th. Even with the late warm-up,
    December 2008 had the coldest average low temperatures in 8 years, and was one of the top 20 coldest Decembers on record (reference site: Grand Island, NE). Click here for more information.

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


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