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That Time I Missed a Tornado In My Old Town

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I’ve always been a bit of a weather nerd. I loved watching The Weather Channel when they covered weather. I have the National Weather Service app and have the website bookmarked on my phone’s home screen. I’m frighteningly close to memorizing the movie Twister. I took meteorology in collage. I enjoy learning about weather, talking about it and tracking a storm. Weather, climate, it’s all very fascinating.

So, you can guess how disappointed I was when a storm with three tornadoes hit the town I lived in before I moved to Sioux Falls. And it was just after after I moved.

Nobody was hurt when an EF-2 tornado touched down in Kearney, Nebraska on May 29, 2008. There was some damage, including to a drive-in theater, Twister-style. I’m not saying I’m a fan of damage and destruction, and sad that I missed that. I was disappointed because I wanted to be in it, helping with the severe weather coverage at the radio station I use to be with.

I have been a part of many days of weather action, but never something like this in the town where I was at. I especially felt powerless because I was following the action 300 miles away while friends and family were in town. I needed to be doing what I know how to do; inform, reassure and help. 

But, everything worked out, and thanks to YouTube that day of the storm in Kearney, Nebraska in 2008 is preserved. There were three tornadoes that day, with one going through town. From the National Weather Service:

The third tornado damage path was the most organized, as this tornado was the most persistent.  It appeared to remain on the ground for the majority of its 30 mile long path.  It began near Harmon Park in the city of Kearney around 5:25 p.m.  It moved east through the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, causing the Expo Center to partially collapse.  The tornado then continued east to the Kearney Airport where it destroyed a hanger and an aircraft housed inside.  The tornado then continued to move east/northeast for nearly 30 miles before lifting about 6 miles north of Wood River in Hall County around 6:25 p.m.  This tornado was rated a high end EF-2, or with winds estimated near 135 mph at times…The maximum width of the tornado damage was estimated to be 400 yards.  No injuries or deaths were reported with this storm.

Here’s a look at the storm from a neighborhood.

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Here’s a really good view of the storm from on of the main streets. This video from some professional storm chasers is amazing. They are travling north along 2nd avenue in Kearney. You can see the tornado to the north-west as they go over the railroad viaduct. After a few more bloks, the chasere pull over and experance wind and debreies. This is the heart of town.

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In this viideo some locals take a tour of the city to see the aftermath. As a bonus we get to here one of my former colleges on the radio!

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