High Winds Cause Problems for Many Including Firefighters

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Meteorologists say that being sandwiched between a low and high pressure system has the dry Nebraska soil blowing away at speeds you usually see in a spring or summer storm.

"For a thunderstorm to be severe wind-wise it's 58 mph or greater and of course we've had wind gusts as high as 70 mph," says 10/11 and NCN Meteorologist Brandon Rector.

And gusts like that can create more hazards than just visibility.

"If you're in a high-profile vehicle and you're getting in these type of winds it can blow your vehicle off the road," says Rector. "18-wheelers have very difficult times with winds as strong as we've been dealing with these past couple of days."

The National Weather Service says that at these speeds this is basically a straight line wind without a thunderstorm. Those gusts mean that a fire - like the one that burned near Sutton on Wednesday - can spread very quickly.

Twelve fire departments from Clay and Fillmore Counties battled the ditch fire that would eventually burn about 3,500 acres.

Sutton Assistant Fire Chief John Schurman says the only thing that helped them win against the 40-50 mph wind gusts was mutual aid.

"I didn't get a count, but I'm thinking there were probably around 30 farmers with discs, tractors and discs, that showed up that helped," says Schurman. "We greatly appreciate it."

Schurman says a half dozen outbuildings and other property extremely near to occupied homes were lost as the wind caused the flames to jump ditches and roads.

He says knowing there's more wind in the forecast just means being mentally prepared.

"Everybody's been alerted, I mean they're aware of what the weather conditions are supposed to be [Thursday], so we're ready," he says.

According to NWS Hastings, the top peak wind speed in their coverage area was 70 mph in Ord around 2:16 pm.


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