COZAD — The sound of chainsaws and wood chippers welcomed anyone who was in Cozad during the morning of Friday, July 10. Straight line winds during the early morning hours had caused extensive damage throughout the community.
According to National Weather Service Hastings lead meteorologist Jerilyn Billings Wright, a thunderstorm complex which had developed in the Sandhills moved southeast during the evening of Thursday, July 9.
When the storm reached North Platte, winds at the regional airport were clocked at 87 mph, well above the severe threshold and tipped meteorologists off this was a damaging storm, Billings Wright said.
A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Dawson County at 12:34 a.m. during Friday, July 10. The storms impacted Gothenburg to a lesser extent around 1 a.m. but then descended upon Cozad around 1:15 a.m.
A wind gust was clocked at 75 mph northwest of Cozad and winds impacting the 100th Meridian community were estimated at 70 mph.
Damage throughout the town on the north side of Highway 30 was extensive. Tree limbs were blown down, and several well established trees were completely uprooted on 19th St., J St. and 17th St.
Also on 19th St. a camper was completely overturned on its roof. At Centennial Park a metal outbuilding was bent at a 45 degree angle. One of the lights at Stuckey Park was also hit with winds to the point it was also leaning.
Some of the worst building damage was on the north side of town on W. 24th St. A metal building completely lost the west half of the roof.
Residents and City of Cozad workers were out in force on Friday morning cleaning up the damage and removing limbs or whole trees from their yards.
Billings Wright said straight line winds were the sole cause of the damage as the storm complex featured no rotation. She said typically this time of year, thunderstorms can develop strong cold pools. Strong air from the mid-levels of the storm descends to the surface and blow out ahead of the storm.
She said in some cases straight line winds can be more damaging than a weak tornado would have been.