By JIM MISUNAS
RUSSELL COUNTY — Lucas-Sylvan Elementary School in Lucas and Lucas-Sylvan High School in Sylvan Grove sustained heavy damage as 80 mph winds and 11/2-inch hail roared through Lucas and Sylvan Grove Friday night.
Sylvan-Lucas USD 299 is facing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage. Both the high school and the grade school have substantial roof damage as well as broken windows and leaks.
The Lucas-Sylvan Elementary School in Lucas received significant water damage in the hallways and a couple classrooms as many of the skylights were broken. When skylights broke, volunteers placed plywood over top to reduce flooding. When water was coming into the gymnasium, volunteers mopped it up and tried to keep it off the floor.
Significant wind damage occurred in Sylvan Grove.
Sylvan-Lucas High School suffered roof damage, allowing water to leak into the building and onto the gym floor. The press box at Mike Weatherman Field was also destroyed.
“We’re looking at both buildings,” said USD 299 Superintendent Jude Stecklein. “You know the floor alone, the gym floor alone is $150,000.”
Both roofs will definitely need immediate repair. Parts of the roof of the high school were hanging off the building and other parts were on the football field among a destroyed press box. Stecklein said replacing the floor is a possibility.
Russell County Emergency Manager Keith Haberman received hail and wind reports.
Hail was measured at 21/2 inches eight miles north of Russell.
Hail was measured at 13/4 inches seven miles north of Russell and two miles southwest of Paradise.
Hail was 1/1/2 inches in Lucas, where the emergency manager reports that numerous cars and roofs sustained significant hail damage. All skylights in the middle school were broken out. One-inch hail was reported six miles west of Luray and Wilson Lake.
Estimated 80 mph winds were reported two miles southwest of Paradise with one-foot diameter tree debris down at 179th and Decker Road. Eighty mph winds were reported five miles north of Russell and six miles north of Ellsworth on I-70.
Brief tornado touchdowns were reported near Fairport in northwestern Russell County and near Luray in northern Russell County.
Wind-driven hail, some as large as tennis balls and baseballs, pelted parts of the area and knocked out car windows and damaged home siding.
Hail covered roads were reported in Lucas. Several cars are totaled, several homes had their windows broken out, trees are stripped of their leaves and the Lucas Community Theater’s marquee was damaged.
Jesse Baker’s roof collapsed in Lucas, leaving water damage along the walls and floor in several rooms.
The primary severe-weather maker was a supercell thunderstorm that developed near I-70 over Ellis County around 4 p.m., where it produced a tornado and baseball size hail just north of the town of Emmeram.
The supercell continued tracking east, producing severe weather across primarily Russell and Lincoln counties. A brief tornado was observed just southwest of Paradise in Russell County, along with golf ball size hail and 80 mph winds.
North of the town of Russell, tennis ball size hail was observed, along with 80 mph winds. The town of Lucas saw hail to the size of tennis balls. Local emergency management indicated that virtually every car and roof sustained significant hail damage across town, and the skylights in the middle school were blown out.
The supercell continued east, producing tennis ball size hail north of Wilson in Lincoln County, and 60 mph winds north of Ellsworth. Another brief tornado touched in Lincoln county near Sylvan Grove destroying the press box and damaging the roof of the local high school. This tornado was rated an EF1 with winds around 90 mph. Thereafter, numerous storm mergers weakened the storm, producing winds up to 55 mph, hail up to nickel size and locally heavy rain.