Five tornadoes confirmed in Buffalo, Sherman, Howard and Greeley counties Friday

Five tornadoes confirmed in Buffalo, Sherman, Howard and Greeley counties Friday
Damage near the Rockville area from Friday’s storms. Photo Courtesy Sherman County Sheriff’s Office
April 28th, 2024 | Andrew Lacy

HASTINGS – The National Weather Service in Hastings says it confirmed five tornadoes in Buffalo, Sherman, Howard and Greeley counties from Friday’s storms.

The first twister touched down near the ethanol plant east of Ravenna at 12:16 p.m. and traveled 4.76 miles before lifting 15 minutes later near Highway 68. It was rated an EF1 with peak winds estimated at 90 mph. The most significant damage was at a residence in southern Sherman county, where outbuildings were damaged.

Shortly after the first tornado lifted, a second touched down about two miles south of Rockville. It moved north along the east edge of Rockville and damaged trees, a couple of grain bins and outbuildings. It continued to move north about 5.7 miles roughly along the Rockville Road and snapped several power poles. It was rated an EF1 with estimated peak winds of 105 mph.

The strongest of the bunch touched down just before 1 p.m. south of Farwell. The tornado moved across rural areas north of Farwell causing tree damage and overturning center pivots. As it emerged onto the North Loup River Valley just west of Elba, it gained significant strength.

Just west of Elba, a farmstead sustained heavy damage to a home, outbuildings and vehicles, among other items. A well built metal building structure was demolished along with extensive damage to the nearby farm home. Based on the damage, this location was deemed to have the strongest winds, estimated at 145 mph, which resulted in an EF3 rating for the tornado.

The tornado was estimated to be around 600 yards wide as it crossed Highway 11 just northwest of Elba. A long stretch of power poles were knocked down along Odell Road. The tornado eventually navigated across the North Loup River about 2.5 miles north of town. In all, the twister was on the ground for more than 20 minutes, traveling about 9.5 miles.

About ten minutes later, a fourth tornado touched down in northern Howard County and moved into Greeley County, covering about 9.6 miles. This was rated an EF2 with estimated peak wind speeds of 135 mph based on metal power pole damage just west of the Highway 281 and 22 junction near Wolbach.

The fourth tornado was the widest of the group, growing to more than half a mile in diameter and destroying some wood framed outbuildings to the northeast of Highway 281.

The fifth twister started in Greeley County then crossed into Boone County. Details on that tornado will be issued after the Hastings and Omaha offices of the National Weather Service review the data.


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