Local officials were dealing with the effects of a swollen Little Blue River following storms Monday night and early Tuesday morning that left more than 7 inches of rain in places in southwest Adams County and areas farther west.
Adams County Highway Superintendent Dawn Miller said the county was dealing with water across roads in areas west of Juniata.
“The river’s rising fast,” she said just before noon on Tuesday. “It’s getting ready to go out of its banks.”
By 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the county closed most bridge traffic south of Nebraska Highway 74.
They won’t be reopened until water recedes and the condition of those bridges can be inspected, Miller said.
Ron Pughes, Adams County Emergency Management director, said Holstein was hit particularly hard. According to reports he received, the initial storm around 6 p.m. dropped more than 5 inches of rain. The early morning storm then left another 2.5 inches of rain.
Pughes went there around 8 a.m. Tuesday with 700 sandbags.
The community chose the locations that needed the most protection.
There was some concern about a low-lying sewer manhole in Holstein that would back up sewers into homes if it filled with water.
Pughes said, according to reports, water neared the top level of the sandbags but did not go into residences and didn’t get close to the sewer manhole.
“Both of those were great successes when it came to a community-driven project like that,” he said.
In Hastings, rainfall Tuesday morning brought the city’s total to 19.57 total inches for the calendar year, nearly five inches above its average yearly rainfall, said Mike Moritz, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Hastings.
More than one-third of that total, or 7.18 inches, has fallen since June 1. While above normal, Moritz said that total is pretty much what forecasters expected.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise,” he said. “We had a wet, late winter and a wet spring. We anticipated we’d be wet at least through the first part of summer.”
In the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Hastings received 2.34 inches of rainfall at the Hastings Regional Airport weather station. Wind gusts of 35 mph were reported on Monday night, but readings were impossible Tuesday morning, as the station’s storm gusting sensor was out of commission, Moritz said.
“We didn’t have a lot of high winds (in Hastings),” he said.
Winds approaching 60 mph downed several large tree limbs in Guide Rock Monday evening, with two livestock sheds damaged at roughly the same time one mile north of Ayr. A brief rope tornado touched down three miles south of Roseland but lasted just moments before dissipating. No damage was reported in connection with its occurrence.
Rainfall was widespread across Tribland, with counts ranging from one-half to two inches of rain east of U.S. Highway 281 and between 3-9 inches west of the highway.
“We’re kind of hearing the worst was from Kearney County as you work your way to Buffalo, Dawson, Gosper, and Phelps counties,” Moritz said. “Flooding extended down toward the Republican River Valley in the Franklin-Alma area. Probably the most impact in that region was water over U.S. Highway 183 at the Odessa interchange.”
Moritz said there were reports of water rescues in the Kearney and Lexington areas, with rescuers rendering assistance to victims in harm’s way in flooded cars and other situations.
As of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, the water level at Harlan County Reservoir near Republican City and Alma stood at 1,953.54 feet above mean sea level — up .64 of a foot since the daytime hours on Monday. The lake is full, and 20.7 percent of the flood pool is full. The top of the lake’s flood pool is at elevation 1,973 feet above msl.
Inflow to the lake on Monday — before the evening and overnight storms hit — was 1,273.1 cubic feet per second. Outflow was 265 cfs. The Republican River was flowing at 100 cfs.
At Lovewell Reservoir near Webber in Jewell County, Kansas, the lake elevation this morning stood at 1,591.03 feet above msl. The lake’s flood control pool was 58.6 percent full as of Monday.
Lake inflow on Monday was 120.2 cf, and outflow was 56.2 cfs.
At Harlan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explained on social media Tuesday morning that power and utilities at the Methodist Cove campground had been shut off due to high water. Primitive camping was still allowed.
Non-primitive camping reservations there have been canceled, and refunds were to be issued. No further reservations were to be taken until utilities are back in service.
“We are unsure when the service will be restored,” the Corps said.
Miller said water in Sand Creek went over the bridge on Powerline Road just west of the Little Blue River.
Her crews were chasing the water, flagging where it’s going over the road and putting up barricades.
“We’re saving most of our barricades at this point for the river area because it’s going to go out at the bridges,” she said.
In some cases, spots where water crossed the road was flagged to alert motorists. In other cases, the roads themselves were closed.
A rope tornado reportedly touched down near Roseland Monday evening.
Pughes said he received no reports of damage and the tornado quickly retracted.
Pughes himself lives two miles north of Crystal Lake. A portion of 32-mile creek runs through his property.
“It is high but not what we’ve seen in the past,” he said.
Additional rainfall Tuesday into Wednesday figures to complicate matters for those dealing with flooding issues in the hardest hit areas across the Tribland, Moritz said, though rainfall totals don’t figure to be anywhere near as high as those realized through Tuesday morning.
“It won’t be as bad by any means,” Moritz said Tuesday morning. “But for those areas that are already experiencing flooding, any sort of rain is just going to aggravate things. That’s what we’ll be watching as we go through the overnight hours.”
Most of Tuesday night’s storm figures to hit after dark and conclude before daybreak Wednesday, he said. Beyond Wednesday, a drier weather pattern figures to bring some relief to flooded areas through the weekend.
“After this front, we’re going to see a drier pattern set up,” he said. “We may not be completely dry, but probably until the weekend we should have at least a few days to dry out.
“Even when you look beyond into next week, it doesn’t look as wet as the last week has been. That should be good news for a lot of people.”
Storms like what was seen Monday evening and Tuesday morning help determine what actions should be taken to mitigate damage in future storms, Pughes said.
“We’ve been warned and warned and warned through these past storms where the water’s going to flow,” he said. “It kind of becomes a mitigation at this point to help take efforts to either purchase flood insurance if they don’t have it already or mitigate some of the culverts or ditches or areas where they see water that comes toward their home. A lot of times there’s nothing they can do the way their property sits. They just need to anticipate flooding issues and, hopefully, not become an emergency rescue, since they’ve already seen evidence of flooding within their properties.”
Precipitation amounts for the 24-hour period that ended 7 a.m. Tuesday, courtesy of the Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network, include:
- Southwest of Hildreth: 8.33 inches
- Southeast of Hildreth: 6.12
- Southwest of Naponee: 4.94
- Northeast of Franklin: 1.67
- Smith Center, Kan.:
- 2.10 I (courtesy of Bob Levin)
- Southeast of Minden: 5.9
- West of Minden: 4.34
- Southwest of Juniata: 4.70
- Southeast of Kenesaw: 4.18
- Southeast of Prosser: 3.43
- Northeast of Ayr: 1.77
- Southeast of Roseland: 1.67
- West of Hastings: 2.42
- Southeast of Guide Rock: 2.78
- Northeast of Juniata: 3.23
- Northwest of Hastings: 2.33
- Southeast of Lawrence: 1.91
- Southwest of Nelson: 1.43
- Southeast of Davenport: .78
- West of Geneva: .58