2nd round of storms still expected today in Omaha

A storm with heavy wind and rain caused tree and power line damage in Blair early Tuesday. This 23rd Street crossing was blocked by a tree.


Showcase: More photos of storm damage

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A second round of storms today is still in the forecast, but it's unclear when they might hit, said Rick Chermok, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Chermok said instability has redeveloped and shear is present in the atmosphere, two ingredients critical for possible storms.

Storms could develop in the Omaha area within an hour or two, or could be delayed further into the evening.

If storms begin firing up, they could be severe, he said, likening this evening's storm potential to the Tuesday morning rains that hit the Omaha area. Areas immediately beneath storm cells saw torrential rains and damaging winds, while those farther away saw lesser rains.

Whatever storms may develop will move through the area relatively quickly, he said. The threat of storms should be over by midnight.

Wednesday is expected to be cooler and less humid than Tuesday as a result of the cold front that moves through tonight, he said.

Earlier today, a powerful morning storm that downed power lines and trees in the Blair area and triggered an alert at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station passed through the region without causing significant damage.

At the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant winds reached 90 mph – a level that automatically required Omaha Public Power District to notify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of an “unusual event.”

Jeff Hanson, an OPPD spokesman, said the administration building at the plant lost power briefly, but no other problems were detected. The plant notified the NRC that it was experiencing an “unusual event” – a precautionary step – at 7:20 a.m., when the plant's meteorological tower recorded the excessive winds. The notification was lifted about 9 a.m., Hansen said.

Winds blowing at a reported 70 mph in the Blair area caused significant tree damage and power outages, but no widespread structural damage.

Blair City Administrator Rod Storm said a warehouse roof east of town was blown off and power outages disabled the pumps at the city's water treatment plant. Water pressure in town dropped noticeably for awhile, but there was no loss of water quality, he said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” he said of the overall impact on the town of 8,000. “It's minor damage when you look at the scope of it.”

Throughout Washington County, OPPD customers reported power outages. At its peak, the outage affected more than 5,000 customers. Shortly before noon, about 2,500 Washington County customers remained without power.

Low-lying Fremont experienced street flooding when about 2 inches of rain moved through, according to the National Weather Service. However, the flooding was fairly typical of heavy rainstorms, according to city officials.

The storms blew in from the northwest to the southeast.

Most of eastern Nebraska saw at least some rain, but the heavy rain of an inch or more fell along a fairly narrow corridor and exited Nebraska just north of Omaha, according to the National Weather Service.

Paul Walker, meteorologist for AccuWeather Inc., The World-Herald's private weather consultant, said today's later storms were expected to bring torrential downpours with the potential for flash flooding, hail and strong winds.

Walker said a humid air mass that had worked its way into the Omaha area would clash with an arriving cold front to generate the storms.

He said it's likely the storms would move through in a line, so that just about everybody would get rain. Within that line will be more violent storms, and not everyone is likely to experience the worst weather, he said.

The stormy weather is expected to move out of the area by about midnight.

The good news is that two fairly nice days will follow, with the next chance of rain arriving in the metro over the weekend, he said.

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