Home U.S. Tornadoes destroy homes in Nebraska as severe storms tear across Midwest

Tornadoes destroy homes in Nebraska as severe storms tear across Midwest

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Tornadoes destroy homes in Nebraska as severe storms tear across Midwest

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A tornado plowed through suburban Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday, damaging hundreds of homes and other structures as it tore for miles along farmland and into subdivisions. Some injuries were reported but there were no immediate reports that anyone was killed.

Multiple tornadoes were reported in Nebraska and Iowa, but the most destructive storm moved from a largely rural area into suburbs northwest of Omaha, a city of 485,000 people. Photos on social media showed the small city of Minden, Iowa, about 30 miles northeast of Omaha also sustained heavy damage.

Hundreds of houses sustained damage in Omaha, mostly in the Elkhorn area in the western part of the city, Omaha police Lt. Neal Bonacci said.    

“You definitely see the path of the tornado,” Bonacci said.

APTOPIX Severe Weather Midwest
Debris is seen from a destroyed home northwest of Omaha, Neb., after a storm tore through the area on Friday, April 26, 2024.

Margery A. Beck / AP


In a news briefing Friday evening, Omaha Fire Chief Kathy Bossman said that crews arrived to the Ramblewood neighborhood of Elkhorn just before 4 p.m. local time to find “significant damage.”

“It appears that many houses are flattened and many houses also have significant damage.” Bossman said. 

Bossman said crews were conducting “detailed searches” of the damaged neighborhoods throughout the night and into Saturday.

“We have power outages, we have power lines down, we have gas leaks, we have unstable structures, we have trees that are down,” the fire chief said. 

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer told reporters that as of Friday evening, he knew of two people who had been hospitalized with minor injuries. 

Firefighters work to clear a home damaged by a tornado near Omaha
Firefighters work to clear a home damaged by a tornado northwest of Omaha, Neb., on Friday, April 26, 2024.

Margery A. Beck / AP


In one area of Elkhorn, dozens of newly built, large homes were damaged. At least six were destroyed, including one that was leveled, while others had the top half ripped off.

“We watched it touch down like 200 yards over there and then we took shelter,” Pat Woods, who lives in Elkhorn, told the Associated Press. “We could hear it coming through. When we came up our fence was gone and we looked to the northwest and the whole neighborhood’s gone.”

His wife, Kim Woods added, “The whole neighborhood just to the north of us is pretty flattened.”

Dhaval Naik, who said he works with the man whose house was demolished, said three people, including a child, were in the basement when the tornado hit. They got out safely.

The tornado warning was issued in the Omaha area on Friday afternoon just as children were due to be released from school. Many schools had students shelter in place until the storm passed. Hours later, buses were still transporting students home.

“Was it one long track tornado or was it several tornadoes?” said Becky Kern, the warning coordination meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Omaha office.

She said the agency planned to send out multiple crews over the next several days to determine the number of tornadoes and their strength, and that it could take up to two weeks to finish the evaluation.

“Some appeared to be violent tornadoes,” she continued. “There were tornadoes in different areas. And so it’s like forensic meteorology, we call it, like piecing together, all the damage indicators.”

Another tornado hit an area on the eastern edge of Omaha, passing directly through parts of Eppley Airfield, the city’s airport. Officials closed the airport to aircraft operations to access damage but then reopened the facility, Omaha Airport Authority Chief Strategy Officer Steve McCoy said.

The passenger terminal wasn’t hit by the tornado but people rushed to storm shelters until the twister passed, McCoy said.

Multiple tornadoes were reported in Nebraska but the most destructive storm moved from a largely rural area into suburbs northwest of Omaha, a city of 485,000 people.

Severe Weather Midwest
A tornado moves through suburbs northwest of Omaha on Friday, April 26, 2024, as seen from Bennington, Neb. 

Chris Gannon / AP


The tornado warning was issued in the Omaha area on Friday afternoon just as children were due to be released from school. Many schools had students shelter in place until the storm passed. Hours later, buses were still transporting students home.

In Nebraska’s Lancaster County, where three people were injured when an industrial building collapsed, sheriff’s officials also said they had reports of a tipped-over train near Waverly.

Two people who were injured in the county were being treated at the trauma center at Bryan Medical Center West Campus in Lincoln, the facility said in a news release. The hospital said the patients were in triage and no details were released on their condition.

Daniel Fienhold, manager of the Pink Poodle Steakhouse in Crescent, Iowa, said he was outside watching the weather with his daughter and restaurant employees. He said “it looked like a pretty big tornado was forming” northeast of town.

“It started raining, and then it started hailing, and then all the clouds started to kind of swirl and come together, and as soon as the wind started to pick up, that’s when I headed for the basement, but we never saw it,” Fienhold said.

The forecast for Saturday was ominous. The Weather Service also issued tornado watches across parts of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. And forecasters warned that large hail and strong wind gusts were possible.

“It does look like a big outbreak again tomorrow,” Kern said. “Maybe slightly farther south.”

Severe storms and tornadoes hit Kansas and Iowa last week causing damage and hurting two people. Ping pong ball-sized hail was reported just north of the Missouri line.

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