All the weather that didn't happen in last summer's drought was thrown at the Midlands in the past week — flooding, rains, hail, tornadoes, straightline winds and magnificent displays of lightning.
Despite the sense of havoc with successive days of tornadoes and hail, Nebraska escaped the degree of damage suffered elsewhere in the country. There were no reported deaths or serious injuries.
Blessedly, only one town — Edgar — was struck by a tornado, despite more than two dozen twisters reported on the ground during the week.
But in Iowa, where already saturated ground could not absorb the torrential rains, flash flooding took at least one life and caused millions of dollars in damage.
As a small consolation, the last vestiges of drought probably have been erased from Iowa. It's possible that Omaha could be declared drought-free when the effect of last week's rainfall is analyzed by the National Drought Mitigation Center.
Today brings a reprieve — sunny skies and a high near 70 are expected — and then storms return early next week, most likely on Tuesday. Becky Kern, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said some storms could be severe with locally heavy rains.
A wild week of weather across Nebraska and Iowa
TORNADOES: On the four successive days starting May 26, tornadoes touched down in Nebraska. Since last weekend the National Weather Service has issued more than 40 warnings and received reports of more than two dozen twisters touching the ground. Two brief tornadoes were reported in Iowa in the past week. Weather service tornado experts are still examining damage in Nebraska to calculate a final number. Suffice it to say that Nebraska's tornado drought is over.
HAIL: The car repair shops are busy in Gothenburg, Sidney and scattered places around Nebraska. As to hail size, pick your sport: marble, pingpong, golf, tennis, baseball. Each was used to describe hail in the reports made last week to the National Weather Service. The largest reported hailstone, 3 inches in diameter, was reported near Westerville in Custer County.
WIND: Straightline winds, probably blowing at 90 mph or greater, caused a wide path of damage across Nebraska's rural Fillmore County and into Thayer County on Memorial Day, said Rick Ewald, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Never seen it quite as extensive,” the meteorologist said of the wide damage path. A day earlier, winds gusted to 77 mph in Fremont and 67 mph in north Omaha, downing tree limbs and power lines. About 6,300 customers of the Omaha Public Power District lost power.
FLOODING: Iowa largely dodged tornadoes and hail, but it's suffering in spades from flooding. Eastern Iowa has received the heaviest rain, and flooding has begun or is forecast along several of its rivers, including the Cedar, Skunk and Mississippi. The Army Corps of Engineers reduced releases from Gavins Point Dam to create more room in the Missouri River to absorb runoff, which has eased potential problems in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska.
FORECAST: Perfect weather today: sunny skies, temperatures near or above 70 degrees. Enjoy! Storms may roll in Monday night and are likely on Tuesday.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1102, email@example.com