Big hail shatters windows, flattens Nebraska crops

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — Calls have gone out to glass and siding companies and insurance agents after a barrage of hail left a trail of broken windows, damaged houses and ravaged farm fields in parts of western and central Nebraska.

Hailstones as big as baseballs were reported in North Platte on Wednesday evening, and hail turned the ground around nearby Lake Maloney into a sea of white. Golf ball-size hail was reported near Gibbon, Loup City, Ord, Ravenna and Shelton.

Amy Sellers, who lives near Wellfleet, said her vehicles were damaged, a house window was broken and her siding took a beating. Wellfleet is about 35 miles south of North Platte.

“We are thankful it wasn’t any worse than it was,” Sellers said. “We are just glad our family was not caught out in the middle of it, and all of our animals are OK.”

Ravenna City Clerk Kellie Crowell said the north side of most buildings there lost windows or had siding damage.

Wild winds accompanied the thunderstorms, including a gust of 68 mph measured south of Gibbon near Interstate 80, where a semitrailer was blown onto its side. No injuries were reported. The National Weather Service said a tornado warning came to nothing.

Heavy rain fell in several spots, but the downfalls provided scant comfort to farmers with storm-damaged fields.

Dean Plautz, a farmer who lives south of Gibbon, told the Kearney Hub that every cornstalk in a field he works was broken off or leaning, taking tassels and immature ears of corn with them.

He said he was pretty sure the field would be a total loss, which he prefers to partial damage. If an insurance adjuster says the damage was 50 percent, Plautz said, then he must continue growing the crop. But the lack of crop canopy helps weeds flourish, which make harvesting his corn much tougher.

He was philosophical and rueful.

“There are ups and downs in farming,” Plautz said, counting the plentiful June rain as one of the ups. “Before this happened, it was probably some of the best corn we every raised.”

The weather service forecast thunderstorms and more hail for Friday and an overnight hazardous weather outlook for most of the state.

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