Pilger Tornado Setup

By: Meteorologist Bill Rentschler Email
By: Meteorologist Bill Rentschler Email

Cheyenne, WY (KGWN) - Nature was on full display on Monday across eastern Nebraska. Tornadoes ripped across Stanton county, leveling the small town of Pilger, Nebraska leaving 16 injured and 2 fatalities according to Nebraska state officials.

A set of twin tornadoes like the ones seen in Pilger yesterday hasn't been photographed since 1965. Or at least a pair of large and violent tornadoes that close together hasn't been seen since 1965.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Rubin spoke about the setup of yesterday's severe weather saying that it was one of the best that he's seen. In the early morning hours there were strong storms across northeast Nebraska that left a strong outflow boundary. This boundary, along with a strong warm front in the area contributed to an extremely high shear environment. Rubin said, "...you can imagine like a rolling pin in the atmosphere being twisted and turned by these strong winds. "

The strong warm front brought in strong southerly winds across the region bringing in rich gulf moisture. Dew points in the area were up into the mid 70s, allowing CAPE, or convective available potential energy or energy used by thunderstorms, values to reach into the five to six thousand range, which is extremely high.

All these factors lead to an extremely large and powerful supercell moving through Stanton county. Officials from the National Weather Service in Omaha, Nebraska gave the twister that hit Pilger a preliminary rating of EF-4, which means wind speeds of 166 to 200 MPH. Damage surveys are still in the process of being completed and official results will be released in the next few days.

President Obama designated areas hit by twisters in eastern Nebraska as disaster areas, allowing federal aid into the area to assist with recovery efforts.


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