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In east Nebraska and west Iowa, 2024 is the most active tornado season on record

Tornado count at the end of May surpasses anything seen before
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Posted at 11:31 AM, May 31, 2024

We have reached the end of May, the halfway mark for peak severe weather season for Nebraska and Iowa. Boy, has it been a season so far? It has felt like the sirens blared and we huddled in our storm shelters constantly this Spring. Since mid-April, the KMTV viewing area has been bombarded with wave after wave of significant severe weather including tornado outbreaks. Of course, this includes the Arbor Day Tornado Outbreak, one of the worst tornado outbreaks in our history.

Looking at the data, not only is this the most active tornado season on record, it does not even come close. Here are the numbers:

Before April 16, there were no recorded tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa. April 16 was the first tornado event, then came April 26 with its historic outbreak, and then came the many waves of severe weather in May. As of May 31, a jaw-dropping 66 tornadoes have occurred in our viewing area (eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, and northwest Missouri).

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Map of the 65 tornadoes that have occurred in the KMTV viewing area in 2024.

Just to show how outstanding this number is, here are some data points to compare it to.

Total number of tornadoes for 2024: 66
Average number of tornadoes in a year: 16
2nd highest tornado year: 2008, 46 tornadoes
3rd highest tornado year: 2014, 41 tornadoes

Here is the breakdown by Tornado Outbreak:

April 16 - 8
April 26 - 22 (5 EF-3)
May 6 - 5
May 21 - 14 (1 EF-3, 1 EF-4)
May 24 - 17

It was extremely busy for the National Weather Service in Omaha/Valley. Since the beginning of the year, the NWS office out of Valley has issued 91 tornado warnings! This is the most issued for the Omaha office out of any year, with 2nd place being 2001 with 83 tornado warnings. On April 26 alone, the NWS issued 42 tornado warnings! This is the most of any calendar day for the office.

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Each red box represents a tornado warning that was issued in 2024 by the various NWS offices that cover Nebraska and Iowa. There are more of us who were under tornado warnings than those who were not this year. The hotspots seem to be east-central Nebraska into western Iowa.

With the NWS, your KMTV 3 News Now Weather Alert Team has also been quite busy being on top of the storms. Collectively, the KMTV weather team has spent a whopping 26 hours doing wall-to-wall coverage to keep you safe! It takes a team effort between Chief Meteorologist Mark Stitz, Meteorologist Tim Schmidt, and myself (Joseph Meyer, the author of this article) to give you the latest information you need to keep your loved ones safe when threatening weather strikes.

While we might be in a severe weather lull at this moment, tornado season is far from over. June is typically our most active tornado month. Therefore, you should pay attention to the forecast this month in case any threatening weather strikes. Hopefully, we are done with tornadoes, we have had enough for the year...or five.