Powerful straight-line winds swept into O’Neill in north-central Nebraska on Wednesday night, snapping power lines, blowing over trees and leveling outbuildings.

There were no reported injuries.

“We didn’t have widespread damage throughout town. But there are two or three spots in town where it just took the trees out of the ground,” said Deb Hilker, the emergency manager for Holt County, where O’Neill is located.

Also, two small garages or sheds were “pretty much flattened,” Hilker said.

The winds struck about 10:45 p.m., she said.

“It kind of came quick,” Hilker said of the winds. “And in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes they were done.”

Firefighters went door to door to check on people after the storm ended. “We opened our community center. We had the backup generator there,” Hilker said.

A power outage ended by late Thursday afternoon.

The winds blew amid tornado and thunderstorm watches and warnings in north-central Nebraska and the Sand Hills on Wednesday evening. O’Neill was under a special weather statement at the time for thunderstorms, said Ed Townsend, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Platte.

There were widespread reports of strong winds and hail in central and north-central Nebraska. Loup County experienced 60 mph winds and hail up to 2 inches in diameter around 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The storms moved into Holt County and intensified about 10 p.m. and exited Holt around 11:30 p.m., he said. Cedar and Buffalo Counties sustained crop damage.

O’Neill is a city of about 3,700, roughly 180 miles northwest of Omaha.

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