5th Anniversary of Crippling Ice Storm (Dec. 29-31, 2006)

December 29-31, 2006

Major Ice Storm Mainly Across Central Portions of the Area, With Significant Snowfall Farther West


To the right is a National Weather Service Radar loop,  valid from 
12:00 pm CST, Dec. 29th to 3:00 am CST, Dec. 31st, 2006.

The NWS Hastings coverage area is located within the orange
 outlined area labeled "GID". Interstate Highways are indicated in red.

(Click Radar Loop To Enlarge)

 
Ice Storm:  December 29th-31st, 2006  (Click here for additional photos)

Ice accumulation on a windmill near Alma. Ice covered grass in rural Hastings. Ice covered trees near Kearney.

 
 Dec. 2006 Ice Storm Summary:

To some it may still seem like yesterday, but this week marks the FIFTH anniversary of one of the most crippling ice storms to affect portions of South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas in many decades. The storm struck between Friday, December 29th and Sunday, December 31st, 2006, and with impacts lasting for several more weeks. The significance of this event was comparable to major ice storms that semi-regularly visit locations such as Oklahoma, southern Kansas or southern Missouri. However, the prolonged period of warm air aloft (to keep precipitation as freezing rain versus snow) and unseasonably high precipitation amounts were a rare combination for southern Nebraska and northern Kansas. Although significant freezing rain accumulations of at least 0.50-inch to over 1 inch occurred across several counties, the worst of the icing focused west of the Grand Island and Hastings areas in Nebraska, with some of the longest-lasting impacts near Holdrege, Kearney and surrounding areas. Although this storm is most-remembered for the icing, far western portions of the NWS Hastings coverage area, generally west of a line from Ord-Elm Creek-Beaver City Nebraska missed out on the worst of the ice, but picked up snowfall amounts generally ranging from 3-10 inches.  Click here for an explanation of how different winter precipitation types form. It should be noted that impacts from this historic ice storm extended well beyond the NWS Hastings coverage area, also slamming places such as western Kansas and northeast Nebraska.

Although this web story does not do this event full justice, it will at least briefly summarize the timeline and impacts of the storm...

Timeline: As can be seen in the radar loop above, which covers a 40-hour period from mid-day on the 29th to the early morning of the 31st, multiple waves of precipitation spread across the area, as a powerful, slow moving upper level low pressure system moved out of the Southern Rockies. Things got underway during the day on Friday the 29th, with a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow affecting locations mainly west of the Highway 281 corridor. By Friday night, most of the precipitation had turned to sleet and freezing rain. In the days leading up to the onset of precipitation, it appeared the greatest potential for significant icing would in fact target places such as Kearney and Holdrege. However, for locations near the Highway 281 corridor including Hastings and Grand Island, several computer forecast models insisted that surface temperatures would warm up enough to keep icing impacts to a minimum. However, by the morning of Saturday the 30th, with significant icing already underway as far east as Highway 281, it was apparent that things were quickly evolving into a high-impact ice storm across a larger area. As a result, NWS Hastings "beefed up" the wording in the next round of Winter Storm Warning and Area Forecast Discussion products. Click here for a sampling of these products issued on the morning of Dec. 30, 2006. The worst of the icing continued through the day and into the night of the 30th, before the system finally pulled out of the area during the day on Sunday the 31st. However, even as the storm exited, damage from icing continued due to north to northwest winds sustained to at least 25 MPH, with gusts to around 40 MPH. 

Impacts/Aftermath: As mentioned above, although several counties suffered icing impacts, locations west of Grand Island and Hastings were hit the hardest, with widespread freezing rain/ice accrual of 0.50-inch to over 1 inch. The NWS Cooperative Observer in Holdrege measured a remarkable 1.48 inches of liquid precipitation equivalent during this event, most of which fell as freezing rain. These ice accumulations caused widespread damage to trees, power lines and power poles. Even large metal power structures were crumpled to the ground.  Several small towns and rural residences relied on generators for electric power, in some cases for weeks. The following excerpt is from the NWS Omaha/Valley storm episode narrative as published a few months later in NCDC Storm Data: "In total over Nebraska, the ice storm knocked 37 main high-voltage transmission lines across 600 miles out of service, snapped or toppled more than 6,000 utility poles, including large steel structures, caused power outages for over 15,000 homes and businesses in over 30 communities and did an estimated $240 million in utility damage alone. Some towns remained without power for days afterward, and some more remote customers remained without power for weeks. A major disaster declaration was issued for 57 counties in Nebraska from this storm. As of late January 2007, the state was to receive $30 million, slightly more than the total received by the state for the previous 16 federal disaster declarations dating back to 1990."

In a story recapping the Top-10 Weather Events of The Decade (2000-2009) across the NWS Hastings coverage area, this ice storm was ranked #1.

The Original Web Story Recap: The remainder of this web story contains the original storm recap posted by NWS Hastings in early January 2007, just a few days after the event. Included in this story are several preliminary Local Storm Reports (LSRs), along with 24-hour precipitation and snowfall maps...


A Brief Summary of the December 29th-31st Winter Storm

A wide variety of significant winter weather began impacting portions of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas during the day on Friday (12/29) and continued through Saturday night (12/30), before exiting the area on Sunday (12/31). Freezing rain, sleet, and snow began Friday afternoon in portions of Dawson county, with snowfall amounts as high as 9 inches. By Friday night most of the precipitation had turned over to sleet and freezing rain, pressing further east to around highway 281 in Nebraska and highway 183 in Kansas.  This led to significant ice accumulations which continued through Saturday night. The areas just west of Grand Island and Hastings received significant ice accrual from the storm, with up to an inch of ice reported from Wood River and Juniata.  Many  locations recevied at least one half inch of ice.  The deposits of ice have caused widespread tree damage, along with power outages, and damage to power lines and poles. 

 

Snowfall reports as of Sunday morning showed the heaviest snowfall fell west of a line from Greeley, Nebraska to just west of Phillipsburg, Kansas.  

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT...SUMMARY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HASTINGS NE
1148 AM CST SUN DEC 31 2006

.TIME... ...EVENT... ...CITY LOCATION... ...LAT.LON

.DATE... ....MAG.... ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE.

..REMARKS..

0700 AM ICE STORM ASHTON 41.25N 98.79W
12/31/2006 SHERMAN NE CO-OP OBSERVER

STORM TOTAL ICE ACCRUAL WAS 0.25 OF AN INCH.

0700 AM ICE STORM PALCO 39.25N 99.56W
12/31/2006 ROOKS KS CO-OP OBSERVER

ICE ACCRUAL 0.3 OF AN INCH. SNOWFALL 1.5 INCHES.

0712 AM ICE STORM LOUP CITY 41.28N 98.97W
12/31/2006 SHERMAN NE CO-OP OBSERVER

ICE ACCRUAL OF ONE HALF INCH REPORTED BY COOP OBSERVER.
SNOWFALL 2.0 INCHES.

0721 AM ICE STORM 1 E JUNIATA 40.59N 98.49W
12/31/2006 ADAMS NE NWS EMPLOYEE

ICE ACCRUAL OF 3/4 TO ONE INCH. OFF DUTY NWS EMPLOYEE
REPORTED AT LEAST 9 POWER POLES DOWN ON 12TH STREET.

0800 AM ICE STORM MANKATO 39.79N 98.21W
12/31/2006 JEWELL KS CO-OP OBSERVER

STORM TOTAL ICE ACCRUAL 0.25 OF AN INCH.

0800 AM ICE STORM 1 NNW WOOD RIVER 40.84N 98.61W
12/31/2006 HALL NE CO-OP OBSERVER

STORM TOTAL ICE ACCUMULATION 1.0 INCH. TREE DAMAGE
PREVALENT WITH LARGE LIMBS DOWN AND LOSS OF POWER.

0800 AM ICE STORM CAMBRIDGE 40.28N 100.17W
12/31/2006 FURNAS NE CO-OP OBSERVER

STORM TOTAL ICE ACCRUAL 0.25 OF AN INCH.

0800 AM SNOW LEXINGTON 40.78N 99.74W
12/31/2006 M6.0 INCH DAWSON NE CO-OP OBSERVER

0800 AM SNOW CAMBRIDGE 40.28N 100.17W
12/31/2006 M6.5 INCH FURNAS NE CO-OP OBSERVER

SNOW DEPTH 12 INCHES.

0800 AM SNOW WILSONVILLE 40.11N 100.11W
12/31/2006 M5.0 INCH FURNAS NE CO-OP OBSERVER

BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW.

0800 AM SNOW ORD 41.60N 98.93W
12/31/2006 M3.0 INCH VALLEY NE CO-OP OBSERVER

SNOW DEPTH 5 INCHES. BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW. TREE
DAMAGE.

1050 AM ICE STORM 4 NE KEARNEY 40.74N 99.03W
12/31/2006 BUFFALO NE CO-OP OBSERVER

STORM TOTAL ICE ACCRUAL WAS 0.5 OF AN INCH.

1130 AM ICE STORM BELGRADE 41.47N 98.07W
12/31/2006 NANCE NE CO-OP OBSERVER

TOTAL STORM ICE ACCRUAL 0.25 INCH.

Below are rainfall, snowfall and snow depth maps through Sunday morning from the storm.  Much of the rain in the western and northern portions of the images fell as freezing rain. 

Current Rainfall Map

Current Rainfall Map

Current Snowfall Map

Current Snowfall Map

Pictures below of ice accumulation on trees in Hastings along with tree damage - pictures courtesy of NWS Hastings
 Data Acquisition Program Manager, Marla Doxey:

 

 

The images below were submitted courtesy of Amber Reynolds, wife of NWS forecaster James Reynolds:


The image above depicts downed power lines and poles along 12th Street in Hastings - looking to the east. 

The image above depicts ice laden trees and power lines near Juniata.

After the storm, ice that covered a real estate sign in Westbrook, east of Juniata, had slid down beneath sign above.

In the visible satellite image above, which was taken on January 2nd 2007 at 115 PM CST - a large glaciated snow field is readily apparent from eastern Colorado into western Kansas, extending through western and central Nebraska. The snow field stretches into the Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota.  Note the other smaller snow field depicted from northeast Kansas through southeast Nebraska, into western Iowa and southern Minnesota.  

 

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



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