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      A Review of the Top Weather Events in 2015

Here are our top picks for weather events in 2015 which impacted the NWS Hastings coverage area (encompassing 30 counties in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas).  The events are listed in chronological order. 


January 7th:  Highest Sea Level Pressure Record Set at Grand Island

An arctic high pressure system settled onto the Central Plain on January 7th, and the strength of the high pressure system reached 1056.9 millibars around mid day at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island.  This pressure reading set a new all time high at Grand Island, breaking the previous record of 1054.5 millibars set on December 24th, 1983.  

Surface analysis at noon on January 7, 2015



Floodin in Hebron. Photo by Shevin Solomon

May 6th:  Severe Weather with 11 Tornadoes & Record Rainfall

An outbreak of severe weather occurred on May 6th beginning early in the afternoon and continuing through the evening, as a strong upper low pressure system crossed the Central Plains. A total of eleven tornadoes were confirmed, with the strongest tornadoes (three of the tornadoes) rated EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale.  In addition to the tornadoes, intense rainfall accompanied the thunderstorms and a corridor of heavy rainfall of 5 to over 10 inches of rain fell across much of Thayer and southeast Nuckolls Counties in Nebraska, and in northwest Jewewll County in Kansas. A Nebraska rainfall observer reported 10.91" of rain just west of Hebron, Byron received 8.78 inches, and Burr Oak, KS reported 6.43 inches of rainfall.  The heavy rain produced flooding throughout the city of Hebon and across rural lowlands.


Tornado Locations/Path  Rating Path Length Peak Wind
5.5 miles to 4.5 miles southwest of Ionia, KS EF0 1 mile 75 mph
8 miles west Mankato, KS to 5.5 miles NNE of Burr Oak, KS EF2 12.8 miles 130 mph
2.5 miles south to 1.5 miles NNE of Roseland, NE EF1 3.85 miles 110 mph
5.5 miles west to 8 miles NNW of Superior, NE EF1 9.7 miles 100 mph
3.5 miles ENE Webber, KS to 5 miles NW Deshler, NE EF2 20.6 miles 122 mph
2.5 miles SE to 3.5 miles NE Formoso, KS EF1 4.37 miles 110 mph
4.5 miles SE to 5.5 miles ESE Randall, KS EF1 3.13 miles 90 mph
1 mile northwest to 1 mile north of Byron, NE EF0 1.12 miles 80 mph
3 miles west of Grand Island, NE EF0 Brief touchdown 75 mph
2 miles WSW Chester to 3 miles SE Hebron, NE EF2 37 miles 120 mph
4 miles SW to 3 miles west of Carleton, NE EF0 1.8 miles 80 mph


Tornado near Roseland, NE 
(photo by Dalton Davis)
Tornado damage between Webber and Deshler (photo by NWS Staff)  Tornado damage between Webber and Deshler (photo by NWS Staff) 



photo shared via social media with NWS Hastings

June 3rd-4th:  Days with Tornadoes, Severe Thunderstorms & Intense Rains

In early June, a stationary frontal boundary resided near the Nebraska and Kansas border and moved very little for several days. The frontal boundary was the focus for thunderstorms, and severe storms developed during the evening hours on June 3rd and June 4th. The thunderstorms produced hail to the size of hen eggs (2 inches in diameter), strong wind gusts of 50 mph, and three tornadoes which touched down in the Tipton, KS area. Two of the tornadoes were rated EF1 and one tornado was rated EF0. Several rounds of heavy rainfall associated with the thunderstorms resulted in some hefty three day rainfall totals across the area with rainfall amounts averaging 3 to 6 inches, especially for locations south and east of Kearney and Grand Island, NE.  From June 3rd through the 5th, a Nebraska rainfall observer locatd 5 miles northeast of Doniphan received 5.90 inches of rainfall, the Hastings National Weather Service office tallied 5.65 inches, Hebron reported 3.98 inches, and Grand Island received 2.75 inches of rain. The heavy rainfall caused areas of lowland flooding and washed out several county roads.


Tornado in the Tipton area
photo by Nick Biermann
Tornado Damage west of Tipton, KS
photo by NWS staff
Flooding south of McCool Junction, NE
photo by NWS staff



Hail covers the ground in Cambridge, NE September 9th. Photo by Cassie Jo

September 9-10th:  Hailstorms

Both September 9th and 10th featured significant hail storms in terms of quantity of hail and in size.  On September 9th, an unstable atmosphere combined with cold air aloft brought favorable conditions for severe thunderstorms. The storms produced a couple of swaths of hail, one from Arcadia to Grand Island to Shickley, and another from Eddyville to Miller to Kearney. Hail storms were more isolated in the Elwood and Cambridge areas. The storms produced copius amounts of hail, and hail covered the ground or piled up in Cambridge, Phillips and Kearney, Nebraska. Very large hail the size of golf balls were reported in Cambridge, Arcadia, Riverdale, Kearney, Loup City Dannebrog, and just north of Elyria. The following day (September 10th), saw a repeat of severe thunderstorms as an upper level disturbance and cold frontal boundary moved through. Hail the size of baseballs (or slightly larger) fell near Chester, Byron and Holbrook, NE while hail of ping pong ball size to golf ball size fell in the Carleton and Deshler areas in Nebraska, and in the Prairie View and Burr Oak areas in Kansas.  The combination of the large hail combined with damaging thunderstorm wind gusts of 65 to 80 mph caused damage to vehickles, homes and crops. 


Hail in the Kearney area 9/9/15
(photo by Richard Thomas)
Thunderstorm near Chester, NE 9/10/15
(photo by Sarah Drake)
Hail near Byron, NE 9/10/15
(photo by Corey Heitmann)



October 11th : Record High Temperatures for the Day and Month

Temperatures on October 11th were hot!  Grand Island topped out at 97 degrees for the day which was 30 degrees warmer than the normal high of 67 degrees.  The 97 degree temperature set a new high temperature record, breaking the previous record of 93 degrees which was set in 1928.  In addition, the 97 degree temperature was the warmest temperature ever recorded in October, breaking the previous record of 96 degrees which was set on October 5th, 1947.

Hastings also shattered its high temperature record on October 11th, reaching 97 degrees in the afternoon. The previous record was 89 degrees set in 1940 and in 1975.  For the month of October, this 97 degree temperature tied the previous monthly record of 97 degrees which was set on October 5th, 1947. 



'Moon Halo' November 21st. Photo by Bart Bennetzen via social media

November: A Month of Noteworthy Weather

The month of November featured several noteworthy weather events from record setting temperatures and precipitation, to the timing of winter storms arriving for Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving. Here's a look back at November 2015...

  • November 1st-4th.  November 2015 started very warm with high temperatures in the 70s from November 1st through the 4th. These temperatures were well above seasonal normals which average in the 50s for the first part of the month, and set or tied previous records:
    • November 2nd (Grand Island):  Tied record high temperature of 79 degrees.  The previous record was set in 2005 and 1924.
    • November 2nd (Hastings): Tied record high temperature of 78 degrees.  The previous record was set in 2005 and 1914.
    • November 4th (Grand Island): New record warm minimum temperature of 56 degrees.  The previous record was 51 degrees set in 2008.
    • November 4th (Hastings): New record warm minimum temperature of 56 degrres. The previous record was 53 degrees set in 2008.
  • Veteran's Day Storm System on November 11th.  A potent low pressure system crossed the Central Plains on Veteran's Day, bringing a variety of weather to Nebraska and Kansas, from rain and thunderstorms to wind and snow.  The precipitation started as rain and thunderstorms but as a strong cold front moved through the rain changed over to snow. Wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph were common during the afternoon and evening hours behind the front. Winter weather advisories and high wind warnings were in effect for the majority of south central Nebraska for the combination of the gusty winds and falling snow. Many Veteran's Day activities were cancelled or altered due to this storm system. Record breaking precipitation occurred, with Grand Island picking up 0.94 inch of precipitation (rain and melted snow), which broke the previous record of 0.61 inch previously set in 2008. Both Grand Island and Hastings received 1.4 inches of snowfall, while Cambridge had 2.5 inches and Ord received 3.0 inches of snow.
  • November 16th-17th.  Less than a week later, another potent low pressure system impacted the Central Plains on November 16th and 17th, bringing another round of heavy rainfall, severe thunderstorms - including a November tornado, and snow!  A tornado was confirmed on the 16th in the Beaver City/Hollinger, NE areas.  The tornado was rated EF1, with a maximum wind speed of 95 mph, and a path length of 12.75 miles. The tornado damaged power poles and trees, and clipped a barn and storage building. Tornado occurrences in November are rare, and the last time a tornado touched down in November was on November 5, 2000, southwest of Ayr, NE. Prior to 2000, no tornadoes were reported in the month of November since records started in 1950. 
    • Widespread precipitation (rain and melted snow) accompanied the storm system and produced 48 hour precipitation totals of 1 to 3 inches.  The precipitation amounts were impressive for November, as total precipitation for the entire month averages from just over an inch to an inch and a third.
    • A decent swath of snow fell west of the tri-cities with Lexington receiving 5.7 inches, the Wilsonville, Elmm Creek and Arapahoe areas  picked up 4 inches, while the Lexington and Cambridge areas received 3 inches, and both Cozad and Edison reported one inch of snow.
  • Thanksgiving Day (November 26th).  In keeping with the arrival of a storm system nearly every week, the next one moved in on Thanksgiving Day bringing  high impact winter weather for the holiday. Precipitation was widespread across the region with a a quick change to winter weather as rain changed to freezing rain, sleet and snow. The freezing rain produced a layer of ice causing slick outdoor surfaces, and snowfall amounts ranged from a few tenths of a inch in north central Kansas to over 3 inches across portions of central Nebraska. Shickley reported 3.4 inches, Grand Island 3.2 inches, Osceola and 8S Elwood 2 inches, and Hastings and St. Paul 1.8 inches.
  • The end of November, the 29th and 30th.  After a dry and warm start to the month of November, the opposite occurred for the latter days of the month. The Thanksgiving storm system finally moved out of the Rocky Mountains on November 29th and 30th.  Light freezing drizzle fell Sunday into Sunday night (the 29th into the 30th), with the freezing precipitation changing to snow overnight or early Monday (November 30th). Western and northern Nebraska saw the majority of the snowfall with the system, with snowfall across central Nebraska averaging 1 to 3 inches especially north of Interstate 80. Greeley picked up 3 inches of snowl, 2.5 inches fell at Ord and both Grand Island and Hastings received one inch of snow. 
Nebraska Dept. of Roads webcam in Lexington on Veteran's Day, November 11th Tornado damage on November 16th.
(photo by NWS staff)
Snow in Osceola on Thanksgivng Day.
(photo by NWS Staff)


Snow Christmas Eve at the NWS office before sunrise. Photo by NWS Staff

December 24th-25th: Christmas Wintry Weather

Mother Nature came through again for the Christmas holiday, and both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day had their fair share of winter weather.  Snow developed during the pre dawn hours on Christmas Eve and spread east overnight and in the morning.  Snowfall amounts varied by location but a fairly widespread swath of one to three and a half inches were common across much of south central Nebraska and portions of north central Kansas. The timing of the snow on Christmas Eve gave the area a white Christmas for 2015 which is not very common (there is only a 25 to 40 percent chance for a white Christmas based on climatology). At Grand Island, the last time a white Christmas occurred was three years ago in 2012.  There have only been eight white Christmas Days there in the last 30 years.  

Christmas Day was crazy weatherwise with a full gamut of winter precipitation falling primarily across south central Nebraska.  Sleet was intermittent during the day on Christmas, however by evening and into the overnight hours the brunt of the winter arrived and many locations experienced periods of sleet, graupel (snow pellets), freezing drizzle and freezing rain, as well as snow. The mixed wintry precpitation was accompanied by several hours of thunder, which is a rarity in December. Accumulations of snow, sleet and ice created slick outdoor surfaces and hazardous driving conditions. Winter Weather Advisories were in effect Christmas Day evening through mid-day on Saturday the 26th for much of south central Nebraska. When all was said and done, snow and sleet accumulations totaled 4.5 inches in Ord, 3.5 inches in Loup City, 3 inches in Greeley, and 1.1 inches at the Hastings National Weather Service. 

Christmas Day Snow Pellets
Twitter Video from @NTVsSteveWhite 


Christmas Eve Snow in Deweese, NE
photo by Brenda Hansen
Christmas Day Snow Pellets
photo by NWS Employee