By Al Dutcher
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.