How windy was it? A look at Nebraska gusts Oct. 23-27

How windy was it? A look at Nebraska gusts Oct. 23-27 November 2, 2017

It was "Hold your Hat" weather last week in Nebraska as evidenced by field after field of broken corn stalks and ears lying on the ground. The Nebraska plains were swept by winds of 30-50 mph, often over a sustained period Oct. 23-27. (See related story, Potential Reasons for Weakened Ear Shanks and Ear Loss.)

The following tables show the peak periods as well as how many hours in a given day had high winds for two sites: Broken Bow and Norfolk. On Thursday, Oct. 26, 19 of the day's 24 hours had wind gusts over 30 mph. Five of those hours sported gusts over 50 mph. Conditions were similar at Norfolk where 17 hours had gusts over 30 mph, but just one over 50 mph.

These readings were taken at Nebraska Mesonet sites that meet Class 1 criteria, meaning that local winds at these sites are not influenced by obstructions and/or topography (valleys and ridges). Nearby conditions could certainly have produced higher gusts, particularly over the Sandhill region where hills and valleys can act as wind funnels.

Table 1. Peak one-minute wind gusts at National Weather Service Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) locations, where sensors are 10 feet above the ground. (Red numbers indicate recorded highs for the period.)
23-Oct24-Oct25-Oct26-Oct27-Oct
Norfolk 41 39 17 47 36
Broken Bow 38 31 22 51 31
Valentine 35 28 15 41 28
Omaha 38 38 13 40 33
Grand Island 39 36 17 45 33
North Platte 35 29 16 38 29
Scottsbluff 37 26 31 37 13
Imperial 39 39 17 45 29
McCook 41 31 18 41 31
Hebron 29 27 12 32 20
Falls City 37 36 18 29 31

Table 2. Number of hours that recorded a peak 5-second gust exceeding 30, 40, and 50 mph (preliminary data) (Source: NWS ASOS and the National Center for Environmental Information)
23-Oct24-Oct25-Oct26-Oct27-Oct
Broken Bow
>30 mph 12 10 0 19 13
>40 mph 5 0 0 14 0
>50 mph 0 0 0 5 0
Norfolk
>30 mph 14 15 0 17 20
>40 mph 7 5 0 14 6
>50 mph 0 0 0 1 0