WeatherWeather Blog


The Tornadoes of May 20-21, 2024 Tornado Outbreak

Three rounds of tornadoes across Nebraska and Iowa
Posted at 6:07 PM, May 25, 2024

This past week, Nebraska and Iowa experienced several waves of severe weather that produced tornadoes, wind damage, hail, and flooding. Below is a recap of what we experienced during the waves of severe weather from Monday evening to Tuesday afternoon.

May 20-21 Radar.gif
Radar loop from the rounds of thunderstorms on May 20-21, 2024.

Tornadoes: 14
EF-0: 9
EF-1: 2
EF-2: 0
EF-3: 1
EF-4: 1

Scattered severe thunderstorms developed Monday evening over eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Most of these storms produced hail and gusty winds, but a brief “landspout” tornado occurred in Shelby County, Iowa.

Tennant EF-U.JPG
EF-U landspout tornado southwest of Tennant, Iowa.

A “landspout” tornado is not formed like a traditional tornado with a rotating storm. Landspouts act similar to fair-weather waterspouts. Small areas of spin can be stretched into a weak tornado. This is what happened in Shelby County near Tennant.

Tennant Tornado.PNG
Still image of the landspout tornado near Tennant, Iowa.

Between 5 and 8 am, severe storms produced tornadoes, damaging winds, and flooding over eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. The storms produced 7 tornadoes over eastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa. Alongside the wind/tornado damage, the storms dropped 2-4” of rain over the Omaha metro, which led to significant flooding.

Rating: EF-0
County: Polk
Max. Wind Speed: 80 mph
Path Length: 4.41 miles
Tornado Width: 75 yards
Time: 4:57 – 4:58 am
Overview: The tornado began west of County Road S between County Roads 38 and 39 in northeast Polk County. The tornado took a path to the northeast, flipping center irrigation pivots, snapping power poles, and doing tree damage at one homestead. The tornado lifted before reaching the Butler County line.

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The path of the EF-0 tornado in Polk County.
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Snapped power lines in Polk County.

Wind Speed: 80-100 mph
Overview: An area of high winds above 80 mph swept from Columbus into western Dodge County. Across this area, irrigation pivots were flipped, power poles were snapped, and damage was done to some homes and outbuildings. In Columbus, a soccer net on the north side of town was blown 100 yards due to the wind.

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Concentrated area of 80+ mph winds across Platte, Colfax, and Dodge Counties. A measured 90 mph wind gust came from Columbus, with widespread damage farther east.
Colfax Wind Damage.jpg
A roof was ripped off a building in Colfax County. Winds up to 80-90 mph likely caused this, as there was little evidence of tornadic circulation on the ground.

Rating: EF-0
County: Colfax
Max. Wind Speed: 82 mph
Path Length: 0.51 miles
Tornado Width: 50 yards
Time: 5:14 am
Overview: Within the area of high winds, a brief tornado did some damage in southwest Colfax County at the intersection of County Road 6 and County Road H.

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The EF-0 tornado (blue line) in Colfax County.
Colfax County Damage.jpg
Damage to a building from a tornado in Colfax County.

Rating: EF-0
County: Butler
Max. Wind Speed: 84 mph
Path Length: 0.62 miles
Tornado Width: 50 yards
Time: 5:20 am
Overview: A tornado crossed County Road Q between Road 28 and 29 southwest of Brainard. An irrigation pivot was flipped and trees were snapped.

Rating: EF-0
County: Butler
Max. Wind Speed: 80 mph
Path Length: 2.04 miles
Tornado Width: 50 yards
Time: 5:26 – 5:28 am
Overview: A tornado followed Road 28 between County Road T and V southeast of Brainard. Most of the damage was done to trees.

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Paths of the two EF-0 tornadoes near Brainard.
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Tree damage southeast of Brainard from a tornado.

Rating: EF-0
County: Saunders
Max. Wind Speed: 84 mph
Path Length: 0.39 miles
Tornado Width: 50 yards
Time: 5:45 am
Overview: A tornado moved over the Valley View Golf Course south of Fremont. Several trees were snapped on the golf course, minor damage occurred to some homes too.

Valley View EF-0.JPG
Path of the tornado that went over the Valley View Golf Course, south of Fremont.

Rating: EF-0
County: Montgomery
Max. Wind Speed: 75 mph
Path Length: 0.69 miles
Tornado Width: 40 yards
Time: 7:10 – 7:11 am
Overview: A tornado began north of Coburg west of Evergreen Ave and south of 250th Street. It crossed Evergreen Ave and lifted before reaching the East Nishabotna River. Damage to fields and a fence occurred.

Cuburg EF-0.JPG
Path of the EF-0 tornado north of Coburg in southwest Iowa.

Rating: EF-1
County: Page
Max. Wind Speed: 100 mph
Path Length: 3.27 miles
Tornado Width: 80 yards
Time: 7:32 – 7:36 am
Overview: A tornado began at the 170th Street and N Avenue intersection and moved northeast. It was lifted near P Avenue between 160th and 150th Streets. Damage occurred to trees and outbuildings, and one barn had significant damage. When this tornado occurred is unclear, as two tornadic storms crossed the same area. As of now, it is more plausible that this tornado came from the morning storms.

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Path of the EF-1 tornado southwest of Hepburn in Page County.
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Damage to a farmstead near Hepburn in Page County.

After the morning round of storms passed on by, more severe weather developed as early as 11 am across eastern Nebraska. Initially, these storms produced hail, including 2” hail in Fremont. As they crossed toward the Omaha metro, these storms became tornado warned. Although no tornadoes occurred in the Omaha metro, they intensified further into southwest Iowa where several intense to violent tornadoes occurred.

Rating: EF-0
County: Saunders
Max. Wind Speed: 80 mph
Path Length: 0.22 miles
Tornado Width: 50 yards
Time: 12:52 pm
Overview: A tornado hit the north side of Yutan. It began near Upper Cedar Creek north of Vine Street and moved north-northeast before crossing Hillside Ave. Damage was confined mostly to trees, although a fence was damaged too.

Yutan EF-0.JPG
Path of the tornado in Yutan
Yutan Damage.jpg
Tree damage in Yutan from an EF-0 tornado.

Rating: EF-1
County: Montgomery
Max. Wind Speed: 107 mph
Path Length: 2.95 miles
Tornado Width: 70 yards
Time: 2:35 – 2:40 pm
Overview: A tornado began near Evergreen Avenue and 220th Street. The tornado moved over open fields before crossing the East Nishabotna River, where major tree damage occurred. The tornado then entered the west side of Red Oak where a building at the city water facility was hit, where all doors were blown out alongside a wall. The tornado continued to produce tree damage in western Red Oak before lifting near the intersection of W 2nd Street and W Reed Street.

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Path of the EF-1 tornado near Red Oak
Red Oak Damage.jpg
Damage near the City Water Plant in Red Oak

Rating: EF-1
County: Audubon
Max. Wind Speed: 95 mph
Path Length: 7.33 miles
Tornado Width: 100 yards
Time: 3:09 – 3:18 pm
Overview: A tornado started near Jay Avenue just north of I-80 in southern Audubon County. This tornado moved to the east of Brayton and Exira before lifting north of the intersection of Littlefield Drive and Pheasant Avenue. Minor damage was done to trees, fences, and outbuildings.

Exira EF-1.JPG
Path of the Brayton/Exira EF-1 tornado

Rating: EF-3
Counties: Page, Montgomery, Adams
Max. Wind Speed: 140-150 mph
Path Length: 32.01 miles
Tornado Width: 1300 yards (3/4 miles)
Time: 2:43 – 3:19 pm
Overview: This long-tracked and intense tornado began near 130th Street and J Avenue in northern Page County, southeast of Coburg. Damage was done to trees and outbuildings in Page County. It intensified as it crossed into Montgomery County at O Street, where several homes were damaged. The tornado continued to intensify as it moved west of Villisca. A communications tower was toppled, and homes were damaged near the Highway 34 and 71 intersection. The most significant damage was done to homes near 240th Street and T Avenue and Highway 71 and 235th Street. The tornado hit a campground at Hacklebarney Woods, where damage was done to RVs and trees. The tornado continued to strengthen as it moved into Adams County where it did its strongest damage northwest of Carbon. (details on this part of the tornado track are still to be released).

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Path of the Villisca-Carbon EF-3 tornado
Villisca Damage.jpg
Major damage to a home west of Villisca.
Carbon Damage.jpg
The worst damage from the Villisca-Carbon tornado came from this home north of Carbon in Adams County.

Rating: EF-4
Counties: Adams, Adair
Max. Wind Speed: 175-185 mph
Path Length: 43.98 miles
Tornado Width: 1000 yards
Time: 2:57 – 3:43 pm
Overview: This violent tornado began in far northeast Page County near the intersection of 110th Street and Vine Avenue. The tornado then crossed into Adams County, missing the town of Nodaway by a few miles to the south. It then missed Brooks and Corning to the west. It crossed into Adair County between Quince and Redwood Avenue. The tornado reached EF-4 intensity in southern Adair County and in Greenfield, where catastrophic damage occurred to the southeast side of town. The tornado lifted northeast of Greenfield. The NWS is still conducting damage surveys, so a detailed recount of the damage is forthcoming and will be added here when information becomes available.

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Path of the Corning-Greenfield EF-4 tornado.
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A home was destroyed north of Corning from the Greenfield EF-4 tornado.
The EF-4 tornado snapped wind turbines like this one in Adams and Adair Counties.
Greenfield Damage.jpg
The tornado reached peak intensity in Greenfield, where many homes were wiped off their foundations.

Rating: EF-1
County: Adams
Max. Wind Speed: 95 mph
Path Length: 12.84 miles
Tornado Width: 100 yards
Time: 3:19 – 3:33 pm
Overview: East of the EF-4, a weak tornado occurred in eastern Adams County south of Prescott. The tornado began near 240th Street and Notchwood Avenue. It produced minor damage as it crossed US-34 near Orange Avenue. The tornado lifted near 190th Street and Willow Avenue, just southwest of Cromwell and the Union County line.

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Path of the Prescott EF-0 tornado