The Superior Express -

Million dollar rain soaks local area, some areas receive a toad strangler


This year the COVID pandemic brought many changes to the Memorial Day Weekend schedule we were accustomed to. There were some family gatherings but not as many as in past years. Superior and the surrounding communities were strangely quiet throughout the weekend. Absent were the class reunions, Memorial Day programs in the parks and cemeteries, family picnics in the park and the Lady Vestey Victorian Festival. Generally there were few vehicles moving about.

There were United States flags flying but with frequent rain showers and the forecasted possibility for high winds and hail many of the flags that normally would have been displayed were left in storage.

The cool spring delayed the flowers that normally are blooming at this time of year.

Even the railroads seemed to shutdown for the holiday though the shutdowns were probably unplanned and caused by the weather.

The derailment of a Union Pacific train near the Nuckolls County community of Sedan shut traffic down on that company’s busy mainline track that clips the northeast corner of Nuckolls County. A flooding Little Blue River and resulting log jam which formed around the BN&SF bridge near Ayr’s Crystal Lake, probably was responsible for the absence of train whistles in Superior.

Early last week a steady stream of campers and boats moving toward Lovewell Lake. We have heard reports of long lines of people standing outside the state park office waiting for an opportunity to buy a permit. One couple from Nelson went to the lake planning to fish on Saturday but returned home without wetting a line. They reported the lake was so filled with people that even a shoehorn couldn’t have squeezed anymore people into the park.

Memorial Weekend usually has the largest lake attendance of any weekend of this year and this year will probably not be an exception.

This year many of the campers came from areas where the COVID response had resulted in more rigid camping regulations. Their numbers more than made up for those who decided to sit-out the weekend because of the pandemic.

The weather was cool, wet and stormy.

Heavy rains in the upper reaches of the Little Blue River watershed swelled that stream, Flood stage at Deweese is at 10 feet and the river was expected to reach a depth of 13 feet before beginning to recede.

The log jam which formed above the BNSF’s Crystal Lake bridge, pushed flood waters over Highway 74 and closed that road on Saturday,.

At 6:40 p.m. Sunday, a trained storm spotter reported seeing a funnel cloud north of Oak and west of Davenport. At 6:45 it was reported on the ground. Before the evening was over, additional threatening clouds were observed and storm spotters were called out in several areas. The fast moving storms seemed to pop-up and quickly fade away. at 6:55 a funnel cloud was observed in the Nelson area.

Apparently most of the funnel-shaped clouds could be defined as landspouts.

At 7:10 a train derailment was reported east of Sedan in northeast Nuckolls County.

At 7:45 the Superior Volunteer Fire Department was asked to begin watching for storms.

At 7:50 the National Weather Service reported a line of storms stretching from Grafton to Nelson.

Another storm was reported near Deweese at 8:15.

The Republican River was predicted to crest slightly above the flood stage at Guide Rock but it did not overtop its banks at Superior.

Little Blue River flood warnings were issued from Adams County, across Nuckolls and into Thayer County.

Fortunately the heavy rains forecasters thought might fall in Nuckolls County failed to materialize. But some places in Nebraska reported as much as 6 inches associated with the unstable weekend air which covered this area.

The storm which derailed the Union Pacific train and overturned empty cars of the type used to haul coal was termed a landspout tornado. What is that?

A landspout tornado is a narrow, rope-like condensation funnel that forms while a thunderstorm cloud is still growing. It lacks the rotating updraft of a tornado but a spinning motion originates near the ground. Landspouts and waterspouts are said to be similar. A landspout requires a towering cumulus cloud to be present over a boundary of converging winds near the service.

While landspouts tend to be weak and short-lived, the one near Sedan shows they can be strong enough to cause damage similar to an EF-0 tornado.

Though formal services were not held and the flowers were not blooming, the cemeteries were colorful sights with American flags flying and artificial flowers decorating the graves.


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