TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (2024)

At least 9 tornadoes confirmed with 5 significant EF-3 tornado paths identified

By David Koeller

Published: Apr. 29, 2024 at 3:30 PM CDT|Updated: 15 hours ago

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An outbreak of destructive tornadoes struck eastern Nebraska and western Iowa on Friday, leaving long swaths of devastation. The National Weather Service has spent the last several days reviewing the damage to piece together the storm paths and intensity as they ripped through the area. So far 9 tornadoes have been confirmed, with 5 of those being extremely destructive EF-3 tornadoes. Survey efforts remain ongoing across the area.

TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (1)

The first major tornado of the day touched down on the northeast side of Lincoln around 2:40 p.m., right along Highway 6 and damaged several industrial buildings before crossing I-80 and flipping several vehicles and passing west of Waverly, Neb.

The tornado was on the ground for over 8 miles before lifting just before reaching Greenwood Drive to the west of Greenwood in Lancaster County. Damage along the path of the tornado indicated wind speeds of nearly 160mph making it an EF-3 storm according to the National Weather Service.

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After dissipating, that same storm system went on to produce a new tornado around 3:30 p.m., touching down near 264th and Q Street in far southwest Douglas County, quickly moving into southwest Omaha. The tornado crossed Center Street near 252nd, just south of West Shores Lake.

The storm then crossed West Dodge just east of Highway 275 and moved into far western Elkhorn, becoming a very destructive tornado, damaging and destroying dozens of homes either side of 216th Street. Here the tornado was rated EF-3, leaving several homes with little more than a few walls standing.

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The tornado continued to move to the north and east, crossing Rainwood Road and Military Road near 180th Street before moving into the Bennington Lakes area where dozens more homes were severely damaged. The circulation intensified as the storm tracked into Washington County, crossing Highway 133 just north of the Blair Airport and damaging a neighborhood north of the Lake Arrowhead Reservoir.

The tornado continued to the southeast side of Blair, impacting an industrial area before crossing the Missouri River and dissipating just before reaching Modale. In total, the the tornado was on the ground for just over 31 miles with maximum winds around 165mph making it a high end EF-3 tornado. Additional assessments are ongoing and some adjustments may be made in the days ahead.

Another tornado developed right near downtown Omaha just before 5 p.m. This tornado developed right over Eppley Airfield, damaging parts of the airport, forcing a temporary closure. The tornado then quickly crossed the Missouri River into Iowa, and crossed I-29 north of Council Bluffs. The circulation made a direct line toward one of our city cams before the connection was lost due to damage in the area.

The tornado then continued across northwestern Pottawattamie County, passing just east of Crescent, and then crossed I-880 just west of Exit 21 near with reports of damage in the area. The tornado finally dissipated just after crossing into Harrison County. The tornado was on the ground for a little over 16 miles with maximum winds around 150mph making it an EF-3 storm.

TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (4)

Yet another tornado developed near Pacific Junction just around 4:50 p.m. Damage was reported to the north of town, just west of Glenwood, with the tornado then quickly dissipating. The tornado was on the ground for nearly 3 miles with max winds around 100mph making it an EF-1 storm.

TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (5)

However, that same storm cycled and a new tornado developed about 10 minutes just north of the Pottawattamie and Mills County lines to the northwest of Mineola. This tornado quickly intensified, becoming a destructive storm as it moved into central Pottawattamie County crossing Highway 92 just west of Treynor.

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A home suffered major damage along the highway as the storm push north toward Cottonwood Road, damaging several more homes. The tornado dissipated just to the east of McClelland, having been on the ground for just over 13 miles with maximum winds of 145mph making it an EF-3 storm.

A new, large, multi-vortex tornado then quickly developed from the same storm in the same area just east of McClelland. The tornado quickly became extremely destructive, damaging or destroying dozens of homes in Minden, IA.

The tornado then crossed I-80 a few miles east of the I-880 interchange, and moved into Shelby County where it remained on the ground doing damage. The multi-vortex tornado continued toward Tennant, and then crossed Highway 44 west of Harlan, and Highway 59 north of Harlan as a large and destructive storm.

TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (7)

Possible satellite tornadoes were reported at times, though any paths or damage associated with those smaller tornadoes have not yet been identified. The tornado moved almost due north from Harlan and passed just to the east of Defiance, IA before finally dissipating.

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This major tornado was on the ground for nearly 41 miles with maximum winds around 160mph, making it the fifth EF-3 tornado of the day.

Two additional tornadoes developed in or just east of Defiance, IA about an hour later. These tornadoes were rated EF-1 and EF-2 respectively, with path lengths between 9 and 12 miles. Wind speeds reached up to 112mph, damaging several buildings and homes between Defiance and Manilla, IA.

TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (9)

A brief tornado was also reported just to the southeast of Norfolk, crossing the Madison and Stanton county lines. The tornado was on the ground for less than a mile, but damaged a gymnastics gym and a pallet plant. Maximum winds approached 107mph, making it an EF-1 tornado.

TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (10)

Additional tornadoes were reported in Butler and Platte Counties in Nebraska, but track details have yet to be finalized on those storms.

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TORNADO SURVEY: National Weather Service issues first official report on Friday’s storm (2024)


What was the first tornado in history? ›

Earliest-known tornado in the Americas

An apparent tornado is recorded to have struck Tlatelolco (present day Mexico City), on August 21, 1521, two days before the Aztec capital's fall to Cortés.

How strong was the Nebraska tornado? ›

Nebraska was hit by nine of these tornadoes, including an EF-3 in Elkhorn, just west of Omaha. The tornado had wind speeds of 165 mph, was on the ground for over 30 miles, and left only a few walls remaining of several homes.

What is a tornado long answer? ›

Tornado - A violently rotating column of air touching the ground, usually attached to the base of a thunderstorm. Tornadoes are nature"s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. Winds of a tornado may reach 300 miles per hour.

What size tornado hit Iowa? ›

Six tornadoes in central Iowa were rated EF-2, with peak wind speeds between 125-135 mph. EF-2s hit Pleasant Hill, Creston, Osceola, Tingley, and rural areas of Union County near Afton and Lorimor. In western Iowa, an EF-2 touched down outside Manilla in Crawford County.

What state has never had a tornado? ›

Tornadoes have been documented in every U.S. state (not including the non-state territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico) at least once since 1950, although some regions and states are hit by tornadoes far more than others.

What is the 2 worst tornado in history? ›

On May 7 ,1840, the second deadliest tornado in the U.S. hit Natchez, Mississippi. It caused over 300 people to lose their lives.

How fast was the worst tornado? ›

Discussion. Mobile Doppler radars such as the University of Oklahoma's Doppler on Wheels have remotely sensed tornado wind speeds above ground level as high as about 302 mph.

What is the longest a tornado has touched down? ›

Discussion. The so-called Tri-State Tornado traveled an exact heading N 69° E for 183 of its 219 mile track. It was on the ground for 3 ½ hours and killed an estimated 695 people.

What's the biggest a tornado can get? ›

Tornado: Widest Tornado (maximum diameter)
Record Value4184 meters (2.6mi) in width
Date of Event31/5 (May)/2013
Length of Record1950-present
Geospatial LocationEl Reno, Oklahoma [35°31'N, 97°57'W, elevation: 414m (1358ft)]

What is a tornado that passes over water? ›

Tornadic waterspouts are simply tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado. They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.

Can a tornado be stopped? ›

We can't stop tornadoes, but by being prepared and following tornado safety rules, lives can be saved and injuries prevented.

What if a tornado is not moving? ›

If the tornado appears to stay in the same place, growing larger or getting closer--but not moving either right or left--it is headed right at you. You must take shelter away from the car or get out of its way fast!

What is the biggest Tornado Alley? ›

Where is tornado alley? There is no scientific designation for Tornado Alley, but most people are referring to a stretch from the Great Plains to the Midwest. Where the highest number of average tornadoes per year happen – the Central and Southern Plains – is the heart of the Alley.

How big is a Class 5 tornado? ›

Severe Weather Awareness - Tornado Classification and Safety
EF Number3 Second Gust (mph)
2111 to 135
3136 to 165
4166 to 200
5Over 200
2 more rows

Can a tornado be 5 miles wide? ›

The largest tornado path widths can exceed one mile, while the smallest widths can be less than 10 yards. Widths can even vary considerably during a single tornado, since its size can change during its lifetime. Path lengths can range from a few yards to more than 100 miles.

Could there be an F6 tornado? ›

In total, two tornadoes received the rating of F6, but both were later downgraded to F5. Based on aerial photographs of the damage it caused, Fujita assigned the strongest tornado of the 1974 Super Outbreak, which affected Xenia, Ohio, a preliminary rating of F6 intensity ± 1 scale.

What was the scariest tornado in history? ›

The Top 8 Biggest Tornadoes
  1. Tri-State Tornado – March 18, 1925.
  2. Natchez Tornado – May 6, 1840. ...
  3. St. ...
  4. Tupelo Tornado – April 5, 1936. ...
  5. Gainesville Tornado – April 6, 1936. ...
  6. Woodward Tornado – April 9, 1947. ...
  7. Joplin Tornado – May 22, 2011. ...
  8. Amite-Purvis Tornado – April 24, 1908. Location: Amite, Louisiana / Purvis, Mississippi. ...
Oct 23, 2023

What was the first photo of a tornado? ›


This is said to be the oldest known photo of a tornado. Photo provided by Nate Mayes. This was taken 22 miles southwest of Howard, South Dakota on August 28, 1884.

Was the word tornado banned? ›

But believe it or not, there was a time when weather forecasters didn't report on tornadoes at all — in fact, they weren't allowed to. In the late nineteenth century, the word “tornado” was banned from American weather forecasts. These storms were thought to be so terrifying that reporting on them might cause a panic.


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