As many as six tornadoes touched down near Kearney, Nebraska, Thursday evening, including some in the city limits, according to the Kearney Hub. The city will host the LHA’s Centennial Conference, July 1-5, 2013.
The tornadoes first touched down near the Lincoln Highway communities of Elm Creek (with hail as large as baseballs) and Overton before moving east to Kearney, uprooting trees, tearing away roofs, and derailing 90 train cars on the Union Pacific Railroad. The Buffalo County Fairgrounds’ large Exposition Center, home to rodeos and large farm shows, collapsed, and damage was reported at the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus. This photo is a screen capture from the Hub’s photo section – click it to browse photos, video, and stories on the storm from the Hub:
Last night, 12,000 customers were without power in Kearney (pop 30,000). The storm continued eastward along the LH/US 30 to Shelton, doing similar damage. A tornado was also spotted 3 miles west of Grand Island. The number of US tornadoes so far in 2008 – 1,191 – is nearly double what it was for the same period last year.
The governor declared a state of emergency Thursday night, and Interstate 80 was closed from Aurora to York due to downed power lines. The National Weather Service issued several advisories for Nebraska and Kansas into Friday morning, including flood warnings for areas already struggling from heavy rains earlier in the week. A weather alert in the Kearney Hub included this advice for anyone ever caught in such a storm:
DO NOT USE HIGHWAY OVERPASSES FOR SHELTER. OVERPASSES DO NOT PROVIDE PROTECTION FROM TORNADIC WINDS. VEHICLES STOPPED UNDER BRIDGES BLOCK TRAFFIC AND PREVENT PEOPLE FROM GETTING OUT OF THE STORM’S PATH AND TO SHELTER. IF YOU CANNOT DRIVE AWAY FROM THE TORNADO, GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE AND LIE FLAT IN A DITCH.