An intense thunderstorm moved through the region yesterday evening, dropping at least one tornado and likely sparking a number of wildfires.
Shortly after the storm system starting moving into the area up north, we received numerous reports of multiple wildfires burning around Lake McConaughy – likely sparked by lightning. A couple of reports said there was a fire on the south side of the lake, then multiple reports said larger wildfires were burning north of Lake McConaughy, up to the Keith County and Arthur County line. Crews were called in from all over the area to battle the blazes, the smoke from which could be seen here in Ogallala. Details on the severity and exact locations of the fires aren’t clear. We expect to get more information this morning.
Meanwhile, as the storm gained momentum and moved south, a trained weather spotter reported seeing a funnel cloud drop about halfway to the ground northeast of Chappell. About 15 minutes later, just before 7pm MT, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office in northeast Colorado reported a tornado on the ground two miles north of Julesburg. And more than a half an hour later, the Deuel County Fire Department reported a tornado on the ground about 4 miles south of Big Springs.
As the storm moved into Perkins County, it broke up a bit, but not before it dropped hail up to golf ball sized in some areas of Perkins County. Also associated with the storm were dangerous straight line winds.
We hope to receive more details later this morning regarding direct damage from the storm system, and details on the fires burning in northern Keith and southern Arthur Counties.
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(Image courtesy of Jacob Mueller)