Tornadoes flatten homes in Nebraska as storms threaten parts of the Midwest

Unstable weather conditions promoted an outbreak of tornadoes in parts of Nebraska and Iowa on Friday

Ariana Baio
Saturday 27 April 2024 18:10 BST
Drone footage shows devastating tornado aftermath in Nebraska

Destructive tornadoes ripped through parts of Nebraska, levelling homes and businesses in the suburbs of Omaha – while millions of people in the central United States warned that more severe weather could be in store.

No less than 25 tornado reports were made in and around Omaha and Lincoln throughout Friday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a preliminary report. The city of Omaha issued at least 42 tornado warnings.

Videos and photos showed massive spirals of dark clouds making their way across fields, highways, neighbourhoods and more, causing extensive destruction. 

Elkhorn, a town less than 10 miles from Omaha, sustained some of the most severe damage with many homes flattened. Two people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Other areas like Waterloo and Bennington similarly faced severe and expansive destruction.

Three people were injured in Lancaster County after a tornado hit an industrial building causing it to collapse. Authorities told The Associated Press injuries were not life-threatening.

The powerful storms stretched across Iowa too. The town of Minden, which is about 25 miles from Omaha, sustained heavy damage.

One resident of Elkhorn described the fast-moving tornado as a “freight train”.

“We saw it coming from the southwest, and when it got too close for comfort, we headed downstairs quickly. We were in the downstairs bathtub, and it was just like the movie said, it was like a freight train,” Jason Sunday told KETV.

“And you knew the roof was coming off because that was a loud pop and sucking motion. It was pretty scary.”

People are pick through the rubble of a house that was leveled in Elkhorn, Neb., on Saturday, April 27, 2024.
People are pick through the rubble of a house that was leveled in Elkhorn, Neb., on Saturday, April 27, 2024. (AP)

In a press conference on Friday, Omaha Fire Department chief Kathy Bossman said that crews would be conducting searches of neighbourhoods.

"We have power outages, we have power lines down, we have gas leaks, we have unstable structures, we have trees that are down," Ms Bossman said.

The fire department also warned people to expect severe weather again on Saturday with the possibility of tornadoes, flooding, damaging winds and hail.

The NWS Weather Prediction Center said current weather patterns in the central US will support a “very active” weekend of severe storms from the Southern Plains to the Mississippi River. They have issued an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms with possible tornadoes for the Southern and Central Plains.

Tornadoes are the result of unstable weather conditions. When warm humid air near the ground mixes with cooler air above and strong winds push the conditions in different directions, it causes the air current to spin.

A tornado can happen anywhere but are most commonly seen in the Midwest where those weather conditions occur most often. May is the most popular month for tornadoes.

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