SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb (KNEP) 2019 was a wild year, but it was also a wild year for Nebraskans when it came to their weather. See the biggest meteorological stories to hit the state in 2019.
McCook, Nebraska during May 17, 2019's round of storms. Long-lived tornado. (source: Emily Pike/ KNEP
Nebraska had everything from blizzards, flooding, extreme winds, and higher amount of tornadoes.
January gave a one-two-punch to the state when two major winter storms dumped approximately two feet of snow. However, most don't remember it for the awful conditions, most who were on board the Southwest Airliner at Eppley Airfield in Omaha went off the runway.
February was cold and gave way to a deep frost - this would further the conditions that heightened the disaster that would occur in March when a multi-state storm slammed the plains, bringing what the media called "The Bombcyclone."
When a storm 'bombs out' it undergoes intense strengthening where the pressure drops 24 millibars of pressure in or under 24 hours. The mid-latitude storm gave a new record low over the area of 970mb.
The National Weather Service was not looking at snowfall or the harsh winds that the storm would bring, but rather, the conditions that would unfold with the deep freeze and snow melt.
The NWS gave their first rounds of strong wording on March 13, 2019 proclaiming "moderate to major and possibly historic flooding expected to develop." And that it did.
Eastern Nebraska experienced record breaking flood levels forcing whole town evacuations.The National Guard and other military personal joined in to help the communities effected by the event. Towns and major highways were shut down for a prolonged period of time and this made travel to get supplies to and from victims very difficult and many are still struggling with the loss of their belongings.
The flood brought over one-million dollars in damage and at least three people died from the tragic event.
Eastern Nebraska got a break when the focus shifted to the western and central portions of the state after the Storm Prediction Center out of Norman, Oklahoma gave a storm risk rating of "Enhanced".
The SPC (Storm Prediction Center) rates the likeness of areas seeing storm probabilities. The ratings go in order from least to worst, "General, Marginal, Slight, Enhanced, Moderate and High Risk".
It is important to understand that even if your area has been given a low rating such as General, Marginal or Slight, does not mean you are not going to see large hail, tornadoes or even flooding. The same goes if you are given a high risk. This does not mean you will see long-track to long-lived tornadoes and hail larger than two inches in diameter.
Take all ratings as caution to the wind and keep an eye to the sky.
May 17, 2019 an Enhanced risk was given, outlining most of the state with ten percent chance for every twenty-five miles of coverage. The primary target area was for the folks in North Platte. Several weather models suggested the storms would fire up in and around the area.
However, as the day went on storm chasers and storm spotters began seeing action 3 hours earlier than expected and further south in McCook a strong, long-lived tornado tracked through from Kansas through Nebraska. The rounds of storms continued throughout the night, bringing heavy rain and large hail.
Nebraska was one state of 4 to see several rounds of long-lived tornadoes that day.
Many videos surfaced of chasers seeing tornadoes in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Kansas was featured all over popular news outlets for a semi-truck that was flipped as it neared the tornado. Several storm chasers stopped and helped along the way.
Nebraska had no deaths from these rounds of storms.
Later in the spring and summer, Cheyenne, Wyoming would see at least one tornado touch down.
Come by July 6, 7 and 8th you would see a storm system move through
much of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. The SPC gave an Enhanced risk during this time when several tornado warnings were in place. By the end of the event large hail and heavy rainfall with a spectacular lightning show was the primary. Sadly, it is during the worst part of the storm on July 6, 2019, Chance Englebert would go missing and the rain continued through the next days, filling reservoirs making the search very difficult. His whereabouts are still unknown and investigators have no further information at this time.
September gave a majority of the state multiple rounds of hailstorms. The damage done have left crops devastated and gave way to a lower than average amount of pumpkins, forcing patches to buy from neighboring states.
Many cars and structures were damaged. Wyoming filed for a State of Emergency after the storm passed through.
Though no deaths were reported from this wild rounds of storms, it is important to take shelter when the National Weather Service issues any Severe Thunderstorm Warning.
Lastly, Nebraska experienced an early season Blizzard that left some in the dark as the winds from this powerful system knocked over several power poles and in Gering, NE, a transformer blew, leaving locals without power for a period of time.
November and December were fairly warm with pockets of lower temperatures, but most were left before the New Year still cleaning up their latest winter storm.
Those are the states largest weather stories.
It was a globally destructive year, but the rebuilding process is what makes us stronger going into 2020.