A thunderstorm packing wind gusts of 70 mph in Hastings downed trees like dominoes in areas of the Lochland neighborhood and heavily treed portions of town early Wednesday morning, with small hail and heavy rain contributing to the breakage of multiple tree branches, toppling of yard adornments, power outages and assorted property damage.
Developing over South Dakota, the fast-moving storm rolled into south central Nebraska early Wednesday morning, producing winds that reached 87 mph in Grand Island as it tracked through Doniphan, Hastings and Clay County, snapping power poles and lines and tipping over pivots in its wake, Shawn Rossi of the National Weather Service in Hastings said Wednesday.
Although wind damage was widespread, Rossi said there were no reports of rotation or tornadic activity associated with the storm. One person was reportedly killed in Grand Island after a hitting a tree that fell across Airport Road.
Several trees had limbs and trunks snapped in Heartwell Park, including a large cottonwood tree located on the island area west of the dam and California Avenue bridge.
“It was obviously a very significant storm,” Rossi said. “Anytime you have winds over 80 mph like we did in spots, that’s pretty significant. It’s not completely uncommon this time of year. Although we’re past the peak of severe weather season, these storms that produce severe wind and hail are sometimes possible throughout the whole summer.”
Though it arrived in two rounds, the stronger of the two storm systems hit Hastings at about 3:10 a.m., dumping most of the 1.03 inches of recorded rain over a 30-minute span, Rossi said. More than 2 inches of rain was reported in Grand Island, causing widespread street flooding, he said.
Areas hit hardest in Hastings included Lochland, where power was lost across the entire area from 3 a.m. to about 9:30-10 a.m., said Lee Vrooman, director of operations at Hastings Utilities. All but about 50 HU customers across town were back online as of late this morning, he said.
“Most of it was tree damage, whether the tree came down on a service line or we had some areas in Lochland that had some larger trees down on primary lines," he said. “It’s taking a little while to get those cleaned up and wires strung. There were a few downed power poles north of town. It’ll be an all day and into the evening (restoration) event.”
With the inch of rain recorded at the weather station (a power outage knocked out the usual reporting station at the airport), Hastings is now nearly 5 inches above its average yearly rainfall to date at 22.55 inches. Normal to date is 17.80 inches.
More rain and possibly severe weather is expected after midnight Wednesday primarily in areas south of Interstate 80 and into North Central Kansas, Rossi said.