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Tornado touches down near SutherlandTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Courtesy Photo­Image
Tornado frequencies

A tornado touched down Friday afternoon in Lincoln County, just two days after the statewide emergency tornado warning system was tested.

The first twister of the year touched down briefly two miles south of the Gerald Gentleman power plant.

The twister hit the ground around 6 p.m. and traveled a quarter mile in a harvested crop field, cutting a path that was just 25 yards wide, the national weather service in North Platte reported. Windspeed was 65 miles an hour.

Lincoln County Emergency Manager Dan Guenthner said deputies checked a five-mile area around where the twister touched down but found no property damage.

The Gerald Gentleman station was not affected by the storm.

"There was no damage at the plant," NPPD spokesman Mark Becker said. "Apparently they did not see anything and there was nothing harmed around the plant."

The tornado formed from an isolated thunderstorm cell that developed in eastern Keith County and intensified as it moved into Lincoln County. The storm dumped large but soft hail at Lake Maloney, where hailstones the size of golf balls were reported.

A Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy spotted some rotation in the cloud as it passed over Lake Maloney, Guenthner said.

The heart of the storm went south of North Platte. It crossed U.S. Highway 83 and heavy showers were reported in Box Elder Canyon. Soft hail was reported four miles south of Maxell, Guenthner said.

About 0.30 inches of rain fell at the airport, the weather service said.

In all, three tornadoes were reported from the storm, Guenthner said.

One was three miles west of Gerald Gentleman power plant. It was not confirmed to have touched down. Another twister was reported 10 miles south of Sutherland on the west side of Nebraska Highway 25. It was not confirmed to have touched down either, Guenthner said.

“We dodged another one,” he said.

Typically, three tornadoes touch down each year in west central Nebraska over a 10,000 square mile area, according to a 1997 study.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/30/2013
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