LAKE MCCONAUGHY - Authorities in Keith County were looking for injured people and assessing damage left in the wake of a Thursday evening severe storm that ripped along Highway 92 east of Lemoyne on the north side of Lake McConaughy.

There were no reports of injuries shortly after the storm passed around 6 p.m. and Keith County Sheriff’s Department blocked traffic on Highway 92 about two miles east of Lemoyne, allowing only emergency vehicles into the area. Keith County Emergency Management was asking people to stay off the highway while fire crews tended to affected areas by the storm.

Houses and buildings along the north side of the highway were reportedly heavily damaged or destroyed, but as of 8 p.m. Thursday, no injuries were reported.

"The most of that tornado damage was east of Lemoyne," WeatherEye Meteorologist Mike Karow said. "The fire department reporting as much as 22 buildings were destroyed and that did included some outbuildings and shops. It was a very destructive tornado on the north shore of Lake McConaughy." 

Keystone-Lemoyne Fire & Rescue performed rescues for people trapped in basements. No injuries were reported. The fire department also reported 39 homes were damaged and two campers destroyed in the storm. Numerous power lines and trees were down Friday morning.

Authorities from the sheriff’s department, Keystone-Lemoyne Fire Department and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission canvassed the area. Power poles were reportedly down and many homes remained without power as darkness fell. Wind gusts up to 65 mph in severe thunderstorms were registered by the Lemoyne Fire and Rescue Department at 5:54 p.m.

The North Shore area, a community of trailer homes on the north side of the lake, sustained damage to vehicles, roofs and trees. Upper branches of trees in the northwest part of the community were snapped off as though the tornado skimmed by overhead. Windows were broken, sheets of roofing material were twisted among upper branches and branches and leaves littered the streets, blocking traffic and downing power lines.

Keith County Building Inspector Steve Broda was mitigating the storm damage at North Shore Thursday evening. 

Residents were out assessing damage and checking on neighbors and beginning to drag branches out of the streets. A black Denali with in-transit tags sat next to a trailer home with about a third of its roof missing. Back and side windows of the vehicle had been blown out.

As many as six tornadoes were reported by weather services, some on both sides of the lake. Photos of the clubhouse at Bayside Golf Course on the south side of the lake showed major storm damage. 

The first tornado spotted in Keith County happened at 4:58 p.m. when a National Weather Service employee reported the twister five miles southeast of Lewellen. At 5:35 p.m., trained weather spotters reported a tornado and hail the size of ping pong balls two miles southwest of Brule. There were also public reports of another tornado eight miles south of Paxton at 6:28 p.m.

Witnesses say hail the size of baseballs fell near Ogallala at 5:56 p.m. Another witness saw a tornado northeast of Grant in Perkins County at 6:18 p.m. Hail measuring three-and-a-half inches in diameter was also reported in Perkins County.

- Joe Arterburn / For News Channel Nebraska

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