UPDATE: Wednesday’s confirmed tornado count rises to 18 in the WOWT viewing area

National Weather Service still conducting storm surveys of the damage
As of Saturday morning, at least 18 tornadoes have been confirmed
As of Saturday morning, at least 18 tornadoes have been confirmed(WOWT)
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 11:08 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 18, 2021 at 11:04 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The National Weather Service offices in Valley and Des Moines have been out in the field surveying the damage from Wednesday’s tornadoes. As of Saturday morning, at least 18 confirmed tornadoes occurred in the WOWT viewing area.

THURSDAY STORM SURVEYS

The NWS Omaha found at least 7 confirmed tornadoes Thursday... they also confirmed a strong downburst in SE Council Bluffs. The 2 Pottawattamie County tornadoes have been rated EF-2.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines has also completed its initial survey of the tornado that touched down near Atlantic, IA. The twister touched down a few miles south of Atlantic, and stayed on the ground for 26 miles before lifting north of Exira, IA. The tornado only lasted 18 minutes, meaning it was moving at roughly 86 miles per hour! Wind speeds reach between 115 and 120mph, making it an EF-2 tornado.

Atlantic Iowa Tornado
Atlantic Iowa Tornado(WOWT)

FRIDAY STORM SURVEYS

The NWS surveyed additional storm damage Friday adding to the count of confirmed tornadoes.

Friday survey
Friday survey(wowt)

Update from the NWS after Friday’s tornado surveys: They’ve found that the tracks of the tornadoes near Beaver Lake were a bit longer and have consolidated 4 tornadoes in that area down to 2.

Consolidated tornadoes
Consolidated tornadoes(wowt)

They also surveyed 3 short tornadoes in Pawnee County, along with 8 tornadoes in Platte up into Cuming counties.

Platte tornadoes
Platte tornadoes(wowt)
Cuming County tornadoes
Cuming County tornadoes(wowt)
Howells tornadoes
Howells tornadoes(wowt)

An additional tornado survey ongoing Ithaca to Yutan and more confirmed tornadoes are expected to be added to the list in the coming days.

STORM EVENT OVERVIEW

A powerful and extremely unusual December storm brought a wild combination of weather to the region on Wednesday. The storm system initially brought strong south winds that gusted as high as 60mph during the early afternoon hours, pumping in incredibly warm and humid air for the time of year.

The unusually warm and humid air served as fuel for a powerful line of thunderstorms that kicked off southwest of Kearney, Nebraska. The line of storms raced east across the state at speeds of 70 to 80mph at times. The incredible speed of the storms along with tremendous amounts of energy in the atmosphere allows them to produce wind gusts that ranged from 60 to nearly 100mph across much of eastern Nebraska, tracking into most of Iowa as well. In total, more than 200 reports of severe weather came in from across our area.

Total Storm Reports Updated
Total Storm Reports Updated(WOWT)

The first reports of significant severe weather began to come in just after 2:30pm when Devenport, Nebraska, west of Beatrice, reported thunderstorm winds reaching 83mph. The line of storms quickly raced east, reaching the Columbus area by around 3pm, where we received a report of a tornado, along with numerous reports of wind damage. The squall line continues to quickly march east, reaching Lincoln by 3:30 where a 93mph wind gust was reported. The storms reached the Omaha metro right around 4pm, with numerous reports of wind gusts in the 60-80mph range along with many communities reporting wind damage.

The line of storms then quickly advanced into Iowa, spawning another potential tornado just northeast of Council Bluffs, leaving behind damage in Neola. Another reported tornado occurred between Atlantic and Audubon, Iowa, with numerous reports of damaging winds spanning the entire area.

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