Severe storms bring damaging tornado, hail to parts of the Great Plains, U.S.


Severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes caused significant damage to properties in parts of the Great Plains, U.S., on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, particularly affecting Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas. WIdely scattered severe thunderstorms are forecast to develop over the southwestern Plains and the Mid-Atlantic, with further hail and wind damage possible in southwest Texas, the National Weather Service (NWS) warned Friday, May 28.

Severe storms unleashed damaging hail and tornadoes to parts of Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska, where 25 reports of twisters came in. One tornado caused massive damage in Rawlins County, destroying a historic schoolhouse.

"That structure was actually built in 1898," said Gary Kasten, the owner of the land the Walsh schoolhouse sat on. In 2014, his family refurbished the historic schoolhouse, but Wednesday's tornado ripped it apart.

"That building is gone, it was removed from the foundation and we hauled the remnants," he told KSNW. "It’s pretty devastating, the power of a tornado is just unbelievable to me."

"Just a lot of debris scattered, debris was picked up for well over a half a mile from the farmstead."

Ryan Husted, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with NSW in Goodland, said the tornado also went over a lot of fields.

"It could have been a lot worse had this gone through a town, sort of like what we saw for Selden."

One firefighter in Selden suffered minor injuries when a utility pole collapsed into the back window of his truck. Sheridan County Sheriff Brandon Carver said 38 properties in and around town sustained major damage from the storm, while another 84 suffered minor damage.

There were multiple reports of tornadoes in Atwood, Ludell, and Herndon near the Kansas-Nebraska border. Meanwhile, hailstorms also ravaged several areas, with sizes ranging from a penny to a softball. 

Flash flooding was also reported in some counties. In Ellis, residents reported water running over roads between Hays and Munjor. the U.S. Highway 40 near Russell was inundated. A mile north of town, a tree was blown over by storm winds.

On Wednesday evening, the NWS reported wind damage, causing a power outage that affected around 2 300 customers in Salina.

On Friday, the NSW warned that widely scattered severe thunderstorms will form over southwestern Plains and the Mid-Atlantic. 

"Large hail and wind damage are possible in southwest Texas and southeast New Mexico," it stated. "Heavy rain and severe thunderstorms will be a concern both today and Saturday (May 29) throughout the southern High Plains, as well as portions of central Texas.

"Multiple rounds of thunderstorms could lead to several inches of rain today in the aforementioned region."

Weather Prediction Center has issued a Slight Risk of Excessive Rainfall that includes parts of central and West Texas "to highlight the flash flooding threat."

Severe weather may also accompany thunderstorms in the southern High Plains through Saturday, while large hail and isolated tornadoes are likely from southeast New Mexico to West Texas before the threat moves slightly north for the beginning of the weekend.

Featured image credit: Flickr

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