Heavy rain, powerful winds and hail struck Hastings and the surrounding area early Friday morning in a storm system that kept residents up late with lightning and created big problems with road flooding in the northern part of Adams County.
Up to 7 inches of rain fell at locations in the county, and pea- to golf ball-sized hail also was reported from the storm that struck the area about 3 a.m., said Ron Pughes, Adams County Emergency Management director, in a news release late Friday morning.
Adams County from U.S. Highway 6/34 north to the Hall County Line and from Liberty Avenue (west of Juniata) to U.S. Highway 281 was the most affected, Pughes said. Water was continuing to flow over the roads, with culverts undermined and having little cover on them. The Adams County Roads Department had been out putting up barricades.
The National Weather Service reported a peak wind gust of 76 miles per hour at the Hastings Municipal Airport, and a light helicopter parked at the airport was reported blown over at 2:59 a.m.
North of Pauline in southern Adams County, gusts estimated at 60-65 mph were reported between roughly 3:30 and 3:50 a.m.
Drifts of white hail remained visible on the ground Friday morning on Hastings’ west side, and cornfields just west of town showed severe crop hail damage. Damage was reported at locations including the YWCA of Adams County, 2525 W. Second St.; and Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor and Agricultural Learning, on DLD Road south of the Hastings Regional Center campus.
The Adams Central Public Schools near U.S. Highway 6/34 and Adams Central Avenue were closed for the day due to an overnight power outage. Power reportedly was restored to the campus early Friday morning, but too late to reverse the decision to cancel classes.
Hastings city street crews were out clearing streets of debris at midmorning and planned to continually monitor and clean storm sewer heading into the weekend.
Leaves stripped from trees have the potential to clog the inlets, and city officials were hoping to avoid additional flooding in the event of more rainfall in coming days, the city said in its own midmorning news release.
City crews will not be picking up downed branches from terraces like they did after previous storms this summer. The city landfill is open 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday for residents bringing out their own tree debris. Vehicles must be unloaded and out of the landfill by the stated closing times.
Meanwhile, Hastings police were reminding residents Friday morning not to drive through flooded streets. Hastings Utilities crews were out working to restore electricity to areas in west Hastings that were experiencing outages.
At the Adams County Fairgrounds, where the Oregon Trail Rodeo was scheduled to begin Friday evening, Manager Jolene Laux said the arena received minor damage that would be repaired during the day, prior to the start of the rodeo.
Laux said the areas where the contestants will go within the arena are in fairly good shape.
“We did have some panels come down, and we’re working getting all that stuff back up — banners and stuff like that,” she said Friday morning. “Otherwise, the condition for the contestants is good.”
At Hastings High School, the scheduled football scrimmage was to go forward at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the practice field as planned. The Back to School Color Bash that was slated for 8:30-10:30 p.m. has been canceled due to wet conditions in the area around the practice field, Hastings Public Schools announced in a social media post.
According to the Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network, area rainfall totals for the 24-hour period that ended 7 a.m. Friday include 4.54 inches west of Doniphan, 4.02 inches about five miles northeast of Juniata, and 2.78 inches two miles west of Hastings.
The Grand Island-Hall County Emergency Management Agency issued a Friday morning news release warning that water was running over several county roads in the Doniphan-Alda-Wood River area.
Motorists are urged to respect barricades and remember that gravel roads are extremely soft, so not much water is needed to push a vehicle off the road.
In both Adams and Hall counties, motorists are urged to use caution when driving. Adams County noted the potential for downed tree leaves and other debris to make roads slippery or otherwise pose travel hazards.
Pughes, the Adams County emergency manager, also urges residents cleaning up tree damage to practice safe procedures when moving, cutting or handling large limbs or trees.
All damage should be recorded photographically as soon as possible for insurance claim purposes, Pughes said.