Survey confirms EF-2 tornado, extreme winds responsible for damage in Lincoln

Published: May. 6, 2019 at 1:05 PM CDT
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A small but intense outbreak of severe storms evolved Sunday afternoon, developing mainly just to the west and southwest of the Omaha metro. We received more than a dozen reports of large hail and several reports of high winds and damage. One of the most intense storms moved through Lancaster County, producing a tornado and leaving many reports of damage across the city of Lincoln.

The National Weather Service this afternoon has confirmed a small tornado tracked across the west and southwest side of Lincoln Sunday afternoon. The tornado briefly reached EF-2 intensity at it's strongest point with winds around 110 to 120mph. The twister was on the ground for about a half-mile, and was around 200 yards wide. Extensive straight line wind damage was also noted, primarily west of the tornado track.

Storms initially developed shortly after 3pm north of I-80 and west of Omaha. These storms were small but very strong, with weak rotation noted on radar. That was enough to produce some large hail, with reports of 1 to 2" diameter hail in several location, including in Wahoo.

Those storms eventually congealed into one larger storm as the complex dropped slowly southward toward the Lincoln area. Right as the storm began to enter Lancaster county, a strong surge of colder air began to blast around the back side of the storm. You can see the radar returns begin to curl south and eventually east as the storm moves into Lincoln. This blast of colder air produce some extreme winds, with a measured report of 87mph winds at the Lincoln airport, and a storm spotter reporting winds in excess of 100mph in Pleasant Dale, just west of Lincoln.

That strong blast of air moving south and east collided with warmer air surging to the north causing the incredible video of the rotating column of dust, and possibly a tornado on the southwest side of Lincoln. Once the cold air wrapped around the storm, the system began to gradually weaken with only a few wind gusts and small hail reports as it pushed into southeast Nebraska.

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