Rare Severe Weather on February 28 - First February Tornadoes Documented


Rare Severe Weather on February 28th

EF0 Tornadoes confirmed near Randall, KS and near Greeley, NE
(First documented February Tornadoes)

Funnel cloud near Greeley, NE.  Photo courtesy of Tim Marquis.   Developing tornado southeast of Randall, KS.  Photo courtesy of Paula Jones.



A rare set up for thunderstorms and severe weather set up across the Central Plains region on Tuesday, February 28th, as an intense low pressure system emerged from the central Rockies and crossed the Central Plains. Ahead of the approaching system, warm and moist air was drawn north, and by afternoon dewpoints rose into the 50s across eastern Kansas into central and eastern Nebraska, and caused instability to increase (dewpoints this high are greater than our seasonal normal high temperatures in the mid 40s for this time of year). Strong to severe thunderstorms developed along frontal boundaries (dry line and cold front) by mid-afternoon and the storms persisted into the early-evening hours.

Although strong straight-line winds and small hail were the primary features with these storms, two EF0 tornadoes were confirmed within the NWS Hastings coverage area, one in Jewell County, KS and another in Greeley County, NE:

  • The first EF0 tornado tracked along a two mile path from 5 miles southeast of Randall, KS, to 6 miles east-southeast of Randall between 528 and 532 pm.  The tornado had a path width of 50 yards and struck one farm.  The tornado tore off a metal roof from an outbuilding and sheared off trees.  Its maximum wind speed was estimated at 75 mph.
  • A second EF0 tornado tracked along a very short path 4 miles west of Greeley, NE around 7 pm, and overturned an irrigation pivot. Winds were estimated at 70 mph.

    These were the first-ever February tornadoes documented within the NWS Hastings 30-county area! In addition, just a few hours prior to these tornadoes, an EF0 tornado near Gandy/Stapleton in western Nebraska was the first-ever February tornado documented in the state of Nebraska.

     

    Damage survey of EF0 tornado in Jewell County, KS near Randall.
    Radar Loop of thunderstorm activity from 3:05 pm to 8 pm on Februrary 28, 2012. Summary of thunderstorm reports on February 28, 2012.  Click image for a list of storm reports.
    KUEX radar storm relative velocity and associated tornado warning in Jewell County at 5:30 pm. An EF0 tornado was in progress at this time. Damage survey of EF0 tornado in Jewell County, KS near Randall.   Click here for an interactive map.

Outbuilding roof removed from EF0 tornado in Jewell County Kansas on February 28, 2012. Barn displaced from foundation as a reult of an EF0 tornado in Jewell County Kansas on February 28, 2012. Tree split from tornado near Randall Kansas (Jewell County) on February 28, 2012.
Outbuilding roof removed by EF0 tornado in Jewell County Kansas on February 28, 2012. Outbuilding displaced from foundation as a reult of an EF0 tornado in Jewell County Kansas 
on
February 28, 2012.
Tree split from tornado near Randall Kansas (Jewell County) on February 28, 2012.

 

Full view of damamged outbuilding on  February 28, 2012 (same building as above). Debris from outbuilding tossed into field from EF0 tornado 5 miles southwest of Randall Kansas on February 28, 2012. Uprooted tree in Randall Kansas from EF0 tornado on February 28, 2012.
Full view of damaged outbuilding on February 28, 2012 (same building as above). Debris from outbuilding tossed into field from EF0 tornado 5 miles southeast of Randall Kansas on February 28, 2012. Uprooted tree 5 miles southeast of Randall Kansas from EF0 tornado on February 28, 2012.

 


In addition to strong to severe thunderstorms, westerly winds became very strong behind a passing dryline and cold front from the evening of the 28th into the morning of the 29th, with widespread gusts to around 50 mph or higher. Although some of these gusts were directly associated with nearby thunderstorm activity, most were not, and occurred well after storms moved off to the east. One of the strongest measured gusts was 63 mph at the Phillipsburg KS airport during the evening (see peak gusts listed below).

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



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