The storm began in northeast Colorado between Sterling and Julesburg on Monday, and by the time it moved on past North Platte, 2.25 inches of rain had fallen.
Ogallala reported 3.25 inches and there were reports of large hail produced by the storm as well.
Cliff Cole, meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Lee Bird Field, said the storm followed the interstate system all the way through North Platte.
“It was very problematic because it was producing hail 2 inches in diameter and breaking windshields as it was going,” Cole said. “If that wasn’t enough, then it flooded the area around Ogallala with over 3 inches of rain. It was a big one, one of our bigger storms.”
Just west of North Platte, Cole said the storm seemed to elongate north and south of North Platte and bowed out across northern Lincoln County, but hail left some damage from Ogallala to Sutherland as it moved through.
“We got a report of golf ball- to baseball-sized hail out in Sutherland from the fire department,” Cole said. “That was pretty scary.”
Locally there was some flooding.
“In North Platte, we had a lot of street flooding,” Cole said. “In fact, the manhole covers were popping up and there were stalled cars in the streets.”
He said the rainfall came so hard and fast it overflowed the North Platte storm sewer system. There was also ½-inch hail reported in North Platte.
“The system will start moving out (today),” Cole said. “The threat of heavy rainfall will end (Tuesday) night or Wednesday morning.”
Snow late in the spring and colder temperatures are part of an uncommon weather pattern that central Nebraska has seen for the past couple of years.
“I don’t think snow on the ground in late May across northwest Nebraska is common,” Cole said. “This is a phenomenon known as a delayed onset of winter.”
He said it tends to cause winter to start later and last longer into the spring months.
“So we’re kind of hoping that this pattern goes away next year, because these April blizzards are for the birds,” Cole said. “And, of course, the cold temperatures can last into May.”
Although rainfall and storms are a concern, Cole said the record amounts of snow in Wyoming and Colorado should not affect the area along the North and South Platte Rivers.
“The snow melt season hasn’t begun yet,” Cole said. “But there appears to be adequate room in the Wyoming reservoir system to handle the extra snow melt along the North Platte River.”
He said in the past there has been another reason for flooding other than snow melt along the South Platte.
“The only time we’ve had problems with Colorado and the South Platte is from a heavy rain center,” Cole said. “That’s going to occur when you have a tropical system moving into the Rockies.”
The danger with a pattern like this in the spring. Cole said, is an upper level low.
“If you have tropical activity in the Pacific, it will get drawn into these upper level lows and produce near record or record level rainfall,” Cole said. “So far, we haven’t had any activity in the Pacific, so it’s been more manageable.”