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Severe Weather Kansas

A tornado moves north of Soloman, Kan., on Saturday, April 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Orlin Wagner

Throughout the day, damage reports rolled in over a wide cross section of the region -- the epicenter for what forecasters had warned would be a stormy Saturday.

Homes damaged near Nebraska City. A town hard hit across the river in Iowa. Hail in drifts in Norfolk.

Yet in Lincoln, sunset came Saturday with just one major loss to the weather -- a canceled Spring Game. And then came the sirens.

And just before midnight, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of Lancaster County, prompting emergency management officials to sound the sirens in Lincoln.

At 11:43 p.m., the weather service reported a trained weather spotter had detected a funnel cloud near the Lincoln Airport. The storm was moving rapidly to the northeast.

There was no immediate information of touchdowns or damage in the area.

Earlier, nearly 3 inches of rain drenched some parts of the city, prompting flash flood warnings. Water covered parts of Interstate 80 near Greenwood. The heavy rain covered roads, too, in the southern part of Lancaster County.

Lancaster County emergency manager Doug Ahlberg said storms brought down a small grain elevator near Firth and caused power outages.

Still, it was the tornadic threat that had most everyone on edge.

For just the second time in U.S. history, the Storm Prediction Center Friday issued a high-risk warning for tornadoes more than 24 hours in advance -- with its target on Nebraska.

The tornado watch issued Saturday for 64 of the state's 93 counties was labeled a "particularly dangerous situation."

The concern prompted Lincoln North Star officials to postpone the school's prom scheduled for Saturday night.

"We are going to regroup on Monday and try and figure out how we're going to reschedule it, even if we have to have it at school," Principal Fred Skretta said.

In Lincoln, the weather threat extended through early Sunday morning.

Throughout Saturday, numerous tornado warnings were issued across the state, but damage reports were not widespread.

Six homes were reported damaged, two substantially, and 50 to 100 trees in an orchard were destroyed as the storm passed a few miles north of Nebraska City at about 5:30 p.m.

In Johnson County, the emergency manager said a tornado near the Johnson-Nemaha county line damaged barns, outbuildings and trees in a path that spanned several miles.

Further west, Mike Moritz of the National Weather Service office in Hastings said reports of two tornadoes came as the same storm moved through Thayer County about at 2:15 p.m.

The first, brief tornado was reported five miles southwest of Byron, while the second was reported two miles east of Deshler. Mortiz said the second report was made by a trained storm spotter who believed he saw a rain-wrapped twister based on the debris being kicked up in a field.

Tornadoes also were reported near Anselmo, Holdrege and North Platte.

Severe thunderstorms also took their toll. Numerous trees and limbs were reported down in Daykin as a result of a storm, and strong winds in Sterling blew over the press box at the school's football field.

The first round of severe storms brought damaging hail to the northeast part of the state.

Boone County Sheriff David Spiegel said golf ball- to baseball-sized hail, accompanied by about 3 ½ inches of rain, pelted Petersburg at about noon.

In Norfolk, the hail that piled up prompted city crews to use heavy equipment to push it off the streets.

In Iowa, officials in the small town of Thurman -- located between Nebraska City and Plattsmouth -- said 75 percent of the community was destroyed by a later afternoon tornado.

No major injuries were reported.

In Creston, Iowa, the Union County emergency management director confirmed the Greater Regional Medical Center had been hit, but did not comment further.

Faiz Siddiqui and Michael Bamesberger of the Journal Star and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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