Northeast Nebraska Severe Storms
2017 | Episode 03
SPC Tornado Risk
SPC Hail Risk
SPC Wind Risk
Today’s setup was a funky. Several different areas that you could target…
A large complex of storms moved through Kansas and Nebraska in the morning and dropped an outflow boundary. The question was how far south would this go and would it be worth driving down for out of Omaha. It ended up diving into east central Kansas and western Missouri.
Another area looked prime in northeast Nebraska with recycled moisture and a decent impulse with very cold upper levels. This brought the threat of mostly hail. While the low level shear was weak, there was easterly winds along the front in northeastern Nebraska which was probably enough to warrant a small tornado threat.
Decided to play the northeast Nebraska target.
After not chasing the tornado fest in Iowa the day prior, I was ready to get a chase in.
Left for northeast Nebraska around 12 pm. By the time I got to Neligh, NE storms were already going just west of there and started to blossom all over faster than I would have liked. Original target was to be a bit northwest of Niobrara, NE, but thought, maybe these storms near Neligh will screw things up for storms further north to not have a chance.
A severe thunderstorm watch was finally issued for my area probably an hour after there were already many warnings. Still not sure why it took so long to issue it. It seemed pretty obvious there needed to be one at the time.
The storms I was on, while severe, were rather boring structure-wise with southwest winds getting fed into them. Just a bunch of blobs of hail and rain. My storms near Neligh and soon Norfolk were a big mess with west winds getting fed into these things. Seemed to take them a few hours to start looking cool.
Then a big tornado warned cell goes up west of Sioux City in an area with better surface winds. Too far east to go after that though.
The storms northwest of Niobrara, NE, my original target, begin getting their act together too and eventually one goes tornado warned. Welp, that answered my question on whether or not they were able to pull it off. Very steep lapse rates (colder air aloft) this day really aided these things. I’d given up that idea earlier and just decided to mess with the stuff due south of it.
Ended up chasing these storms from Neligh all the way to Tekemah, NE near the river. Nothing overly photo-worthy until the storms literally got to Tekemah.
Then it started to look kind of cool and it even wrapped up a bit…
As soon as the storms started to look cool, my road networks turn to crap with no river crossings until Blair.
I decide to continue to chase the storm and milk out the gravel roads I had left east for the 5 miles between Highway 75 and the river. Ended up getting a bit ahead of this thing again.
You can see where it wraps in. It had a bit of a notch on radar as well. It just didn’t quite have the rapid low level rotation you’d want for a tornado though. Mostly a cold storm with wind and hail behind it.
Out of east roads now, so I just let this pass me overhead…
Headed back home after this. This was a nice little ending to the chase despite driving around for 4 hours when this eventually happened only 45 minutes away lol.
“But wait there’s more.” The sky said.
Fired up computer to get some of the photos from this chase organized and up…but then another complex blows up to the northwest not terribly far. It was 8:30 pm and thought, what the heck, let’s go back out again and get a sunset shelf cloud.
I’m driving north out of Omaha trying to find a good north view which probably took 30 freaking minutes. Haven’t really utilized a due north view in the area much before. It always seems like it’s west for these or east for lightning. I’d get on a hill, but there’d be trees or houses. I’d be in a valley and there’d be no trees or houses, but there would be hills around the road. And then roads with construction. I probably ran into construction a half a dozen times this day.
This storm wasn’t far now, so I couldn’t go too far north without overshooting it. I was attempting to time-lapse the whole thing, but couldn’t get set up in time. Finally found a halfway decent place north of Bennington where you could see the bottom of the shelf cloud.
This shelf cloud was goofy low on the eastern side. And the lightning underneath it had a beautiful orange glow.
This complex eventually moved to the southeast into the eastern parts of Omaha and dropped some decent hail. Another storm with a pronounced mid-level rotating updraft in an area of steep lapse rates (colder temperatures aloft) formed just west of Omaha and tracked through the southwestern part of the city. This meant hail.
I ended up going after it to play in some of the hail. It was only about quarter-sized at the time. Eventually just stopped in a gas station to wait it out. It hailed hard for a bit, then stopped for 10 minutes…then started hailing again. The storm really just exploded in southwestern Omaha. Some people posted pictures of golf-tennis ball sized hail.
Other than the unnecessary driving and poor road options, there were some pretty nice treats. It was fun either way…it was nice getting out for only the 3rd chase of the year during a very slow season.
Storm Reports & Chase Summary
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