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Top Weather Events of 2018

With 2018 in the books, it's time to take a look back and review some of the significant weather events which occurred across our 30-county coverage area of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. The events that made our top picks include varying weather extremes, from winter weather to severe weather. 

The start of 2018 will be remembered for its cold winter season, as this (overall) cold, wintry pattern held firm well into April. Temperatures in January started cold, but ended milder with overall monthly temperatures averaging 1-3 degrees below normal. February was consistently cold (especially through the first 24 days) and the month as a whole averaged 5-8 degrees below normal across the area. The cold temperatures of February 2018 ranked it among  the Top-20 coldest on record. Temperatures trended up in March and averaged near seasonal normals. However, it was a slow start to spring, as downright-cold air returned for April. Monthly temperatures averaged 7-9 degrees below normal, and it was the 2nd-coldest April on record for both Grand Island and Hastings!  

Overall snow amounts for the 2017-2018 winter season ranged from 7.6 inches at Cawker City, KS to 39.8" near Arcadia, NE. However, for most places, snow amounts averaged within 6" either side of seasonal normals. In the Tri-Cities, Grand Island received 33.6 inches of snow (4.6" above normal), Kearney picked up 31.1 inches (7.7" above normal) and Hastings totaled 27.1" (1.7" below normal). 

Severe weather in 2018 was a bit of mixed bag across the area. Most people probably won't remember the 13 tornadoes which impacted the area, primarily because these tornadoes were generally weak in nature and caused limited damage. What may stand out more is the combination of damaging winds and hail. A staple of every season, this past season brought particularly damaging hail events to Phelps, Furnas, Hamilton, York and Howard counties. In those counties, large amounts of crops were literally "mowed down" by the wind and hail. Fortunately, no injuries were reported this severe weather season, and once the summer season passed, the year ended with little to no severe weather in the fall

Later in the year, "winter" showed up early for many. October 14th featured one of the earlier snow events on record for parts of the area, which was then followed by a series of snow events in November and early December. The multiple rounds of snow totaled 4-10 inches across the area which were above-normal snow totals for November. Temperatures were overall colder-than-normal during the fall, running 2-4 degrees below normal in October and 3-5 degrees below normal in November.  

2018 closed with a wet December, featuring widespread record-setting rainfall on the 1st and and again on the 26th. December 2018 as a whole was the 2nd-wettest on record at Grand Island and 3rd-wettest at Hastings. However, these very wet conditions were mainly confined to only a few days at the beginning and end of the month, while the majority of December actually featured dry and mild conditions with overall monthly temperatures averaging 1-3  degrees above normal. 

As for total 2018 precipitation, at least 99% of our local area was above normal, with many places (including the Tri Cities) a solid 3-6" above normal. A few of the overall-highest official annual totals featured 39.55" near Plainville KS (an incredible 14.12" above normal) and 36.02" at Ord (10.46" above normal)!  See the very bottom of this story for a 2018 precipitation map and several other annual totals/extremes

January 21-22, 2018 Winter Storm.  
Photo by Jennifer Mohn Kenny (Northwest of Central City, NE)

Web Cam View of the Doniphan Tornado May 1st
(photo courtesy KSNB-TV)

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