WYMORE — Melanie Kelsay wasn’t sure what caused the loud noise that shook her house and woke her up early Thursday.
Kelsay, 36, said it sounded like a semitrailer truck had hit the house — but then, she said, “I thought it was a tornado, so I woke everyone up and we went to the basement.”
It wasn’t a tornado, but a storm packing high winds, heavy rain and hail blew through the southeast Nebraska town of about 1,500 people around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. It took down trees and branches, knocked out power, plugged storm drains and damaged homes and buildings, said Mark Meints, assistant fire chief for the Wymore Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.
“It left a path right through the middle of town,” he said.
After speaking with Wymore town officials and reviewing radar data, officials with the National Weather Service office in Valley said they had determined that the damage was caused by 80-plus mph winds from a microburst.
Becky Kern, a meteorologist with the weather service, said a microburst occurs when a storm collapses, hits the ground and then spreads quickly. Toss in pea- to dime-size hail and heavy rain, she said, and severe damage will result.
Meints said hail piled up about 2 inches deep in most parts of town. Firefighters, he said, were unplugging storm drains early Thursday.
No injuries were reported.
City crews worked after the storm blew through and had restored power to the town by late morning. The opening of school was delayed two hours.
Wymore Police Chief Jay Welch said the rain gauge at his house on the south end of town registered 1.8 inches. Some locations outside town received up to 2.5 inches, he said.
Elsewhere, the weather service issued a flood advisory for the east-central Nebraska counties of Hamilton, York and Merrick after the area received 1 to 3 inches of rain Wednesday night and early Thursday.
Omaha’s Eppley Airfield reported .13 of an inch of rain, while Offutt Air Force Base and Millard had .14, Valley .17 and Council Bluffs .11.
Beatrice, which is about 15 miles northwest of Wymore, reported 1.11 inches of rain.
The rain and hail early Thursday woke up Cari Emerson. She and her husband, Zack, went and checked on their daughters Marlee, 7, and Piper, 4. The “loud roaring” hadn’t awakened them.
Cari, 35, said she could feel pressure in the house and thought the windows would break, but she didn’t think it was a tornado, because Wymore’s sirens weren’t going off.
The Emersons’ mailbox ended up in the street after the storm, and a large tree branch took down part of their fence and smashed their car’s windshield.
Roger Davidson was in his yard Thursday, the day before his 77th birthday, picking up and raking piles of sticks. He already had a pickup bed full of branches. It could have been worse, Davidson said.
When Kelsay’s family came up out of the basement 10 minutes after hearing the big crash, she discovered that a large tree branch had slammed into the side of her two-story house.
Four men, one on the ground and three on the roof, were cutting up the branch Thursday.
Another large branch was lying in her yard.
“It was scary and loud — shook the whole house,” Kelsay said, “but at least no one got hurt.”