|Early storm pummels area with hail|
|May 27, 2010 Jerry Purvis|
Just before noon on Monday, a powerful, fast moving storm blew in from the south to hammer the Gering and Scottsbluff areas with large hail.
Meteorologists were warning that violent weather was probable on Monday, caused by upper level winds spreading out and creating a vacuum. And that’s what many communities around the Panhandle received, from Kimball and Chappell north to Alliance and on to Gordon.
In addition to hail up to the size of baseballs, winds in excess of 60 mph caused extensive damage to the local area. Smashed windows and windshields, downed tree limbs and power lines, as well as other building damage were common. The storm also produced a lengthy tornado warning over the noon hour. Flooded streets and parking lots were other calling cards left by the storm.
Captain Jason Rogers of the Gering Police Department said the east and southeast areas of the city were hardest hit. “Some houses on Pappas Boulevard suffered significant damage as well as lots of vehicles in the area,” he said. “The Gering Central Stores building and many of their vehicles also had some damage.”
Kent Ewing, owner of Leo’s Used Cars in east Gering, reported that his entire inventory suffered severe damage from the storm.
As the storm continued to move north, the East Overland area of Scottsbluff was pounded with large hail.
Reganis Auto Center suffered an estimated $1 million in damage to vehicles on their lot. “We suffered incredible damage,” said sales rep Kevin Sandberg. “I don’t think there’s a vehicle without a broken windshield, back window or major body damage.”
Sandberg said the power was out for some time at the dealership Monday afternoon and it was hard to hear as the storm passed through and hail pounded the roof. Oddly, no windows in the building were broken.
Jeff Blaha, owner of Scottsbluff Paintless Dent Repair, also reported extensive damage in his part of town. He said he will be quite busy over the next few weeks as people are already contacting him about repairs.
Blaha’s shop is located in east Scottsbluff, where much of the damage happened as the early afternoon storm blew in from the south.
The Scottsfield Estates apartment complex at 38th Street and Avenue D in Scottsbluff also took a big hit. High winds almost completely ripped the roof off the building, leaving Styrofoam and other debris covering the surrounding yard. The Red Cross helped the building’s 20 residents relocate into temporary shelter.
Ann Avery, representative for State Farm Insurance in Lincoln, said her company had received about 1,200 auto claims in Nebraska, with almost 1,000 of them from the Gering and Scottsbluff area. They also received 600 homeowner claims, about 450 of them from Gering, Scottsbluff and Kimball.