A Union Pacific train passes by as standing water begins to accumulate under the Highway 30 viaduct in this file photo. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

What had been a dry month during May came to an end as Grand Island received nearly 4.5 inches of rain as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Hastings.

The rain had been constant since Thursday afternoon, causing the NWS Hastings to issue a flood advisory in a wide area of south-central Nebraska, including, Greeley, Webster, Adams, Nance, Hamilton, Buffalo, Polk, Hall, Franklin, Phelps, Kearney, York, Merrick, Sherman and Howard counties until 8:45 a.m. Saturday.

Locations that will experience flooding include Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, Aurora, Central City, Minden, St. Paul, Gibbon, Ravenna, Wood River, Fullerton, Shelton, Blue Hill, Kenesaw, Doniphan, Cairo, Juniata, Axtell, Alda and Palmer.

Friday night, showers and thunderstorms were possible, mainly before 11 p.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. The expected low was around 55, with an 80% chance of precipitation. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch were possible.

The rain was heavy Thursday night through Friday morning; Grand Island saw 3 inches of rain. The weather service said 1.38 inches was reported in Aurora, 0.57 of an inch in Hastings, and 3 inches in Kearney. Greeley had .31 of an inch; Loup City, .43 of an inch; Osceola, .70 of an inch; Ravenna, 1.83 inches; and St. Paul, .94 of an inch.

NeRAIN, a cooperative of rural weather observers, reported some rural areas of Kearney getting more than 4 inches; rural Gibbon, 3.36 inches; rural Dannebrog, 2.72 inches; rural Wood River, 2 inches; rural Doniphan, 1.26 inches; and rural Central City, .91 of an inch.

Going into a wet Memorial Day weekend, Grand Island was nearly 2 inches below the 30-year average in precipitation at .66 of an inch before more than 2.72 of rain fell on Thursday and more over night into Friday morning.

The NWS Hastings said the wettest Memorial Day on record for Grand Island was 1935 with 2.97 inches. Measurable rain (0.01 inch or more) has been recorded in 50 of the 124 years, or 40% of the time. In recent years, a somewhat rainy spell has developed, as seven of the past 10 holidays have featured rain at some point during the calendar day, but it’s been 43 years (1977) since 1 inch or more of rain fell at Central Nebraska Regional Airport.

NWS Hastings said the last time severe thunderstorms directly affected the Grand Island area on Memorial Day was nine years ago on May 30, 2011, when an evening squall line produced a peak gust of 74 mph at the airport, resulting in several reports of tree and structural damage across town. Last year (May 27, 2019) an evening severe storm dropped hail up to ping pong ball size in Kearney, but remained to the west of Grand Island. The daily rain total of 0.84 of an inch, which marked the wettest Memorial Day in 42 years at Grand Island since 1.01” fell May 30, 1977.

The 0.84 on an inch on Memorial Day 2019 was actually the “middle day” of a very wet 3-day stretch, as Grand Island tallied 3.20 inches from the May 26-28.

Weekend forecast

Starting the Memorial Day weekend will be a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. on Saturday. The high will be near 82. Showers and thunderstorms are likely Saturday night, mainly between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., with a low around 64. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

For Sunday, there is a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 2 p.m., with a high near 80. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

On Sunday night, showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly after 8 p.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. The low will be around 56. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

On Memorial Day itself, showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly before 8 a.m., with a high near 70. Chance of precipitation is 60%. There is a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 8 p.m., with a low around 53.

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