June 20, 2011
Tornado Outbreak
 

 

(Click on any image within these pages for a larger version)

Tornado 5 miles south of Elm Creek just east of Hwy 183.  Photo Courtesy of Bryce Kintigh. Tornado 5 miles south of Elm Creek just east of Hwy 183.  Photo Courtesy of Bryce Kintigh. Tornado west of Osceola on Highway 92. Photo Courtesy of Greg Dumas. Tornado near Bradshaw.  Photo courtesy of Brett Lyons.
Tornado 5 miles south of Elm Creek just east of Hwy 183. 
Photo Courtesy of Bryce Kintigh.
Tornado 5 miles south of Elm Creek just east of Hwy 183. 
Photo Courtesy of Bryce Kintigh.
Tornado west of Osceola on Highway 92. Photo Courtesy of Greg Dumas. Tornado near Bradshaw. 
Photo courtesy of Brett Lyons.
 

The radar loop above shows the evolution of thunderstorm activity across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas during the afternoon and evening hours of June 20. June 20, 2011 Preliminary Storm Reports. Click here for detailed reports.
The radar loop above shows the evolution of thunderstorm activity across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas during the afternoon and evening hours of June 20. June 20, 2011 Preliminary Storm Reports.
Click here for detailed reports.

 


EF-3 Tornadoes: Amherst & Polk/Osceola

 EF-3 Tornado - Amherst, NE (Buffalo County)   (click link to the left for a separate page with additional photos and details)
  • The tornado had an approximately 10 mile path length starting 5 miles southwest of Amherst and ending 4 miles north of Amherst
  • Maximum path width of 3/4 of a mile
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 160 mph
  • Time between 4:09 p.m. - 4:37 p.m. CDT

     

    Transmission lines downed near Amherst, NE. Photo by NWS staff. Close up view of transmission tower down near Amherst, NE. Photo by NWS Staff. House damaged near Amherst. Photo by NWS staff.
    Transmission lines downed near Amherst. Photo by NWS staff. Close up view of transmission tower down near Amherst. Photo by NWS Staff. House damaged near Amherst. Photo by NWS staff.
    KUEX radar reflectivity with donut hole in hook echo approximately 4 miles north of Amherst at 426 pm CDT. KUEX radar storm relative velocity signature approximately  4 miles north of Amherst at 426 pm CDT. Tornado strewn debris near Amherst, NE. Photo by NWS staff.
    KUEX radar reflectivity with donut hole in hook echo approximately 4 miles north of Amherst at 4:26 pm CDT. KUEX radar storm relative velocity signature approximately  4 miles north of Amherst at 4:26 pm CDT. Tornado strewn debris near Amherst.  Photo by NWS staff.
    Storm damage survey map and track of the Amherst tornado.

    Storm damage survey map and track of the Amherst tornado.

 

 EF-3 Tornado - Polk/Osceola, NE (Polk County)   (click link to the left for a separate page with additional photos and details)

  • The tornado had an approximately 9.5 mile path length starting 4 miles east of Polk and ending 6 miles west-northwest of Osceola 
  • Maximum path width of 1/2 of a mile
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 140 mph
  • Time between 6:02 p.m. - 6:20 p.m. CDT

A photo of the tornado by Tony Vogel, on the outskirts of Osceola, NE around 6:15 pm CDT. House destroyed by the tornado on Highway 92 near Osceola, NE. Photo by NWS Staff. House destroyed by the tornado on Highway 92 near Osceola, NE.  Photo by NWS Staff. House destroyed by the tornado on Highway 66 near Polk, NE. Photo by NWS Staff.
A photo of the tornado by Tony Vogel, looking west from the outskirts of Osceola around 6:15 pm CDT. House destroyed by the tornado on Highway 92 west of Osceola.
Photo by NWS Staff.
House destroyed by the tornado on Highway 92 west of Osceola.
Photo by NWS Staff.
House destroyed by the tornado on Highway 66 near Polk.
Photo by NWS Staff.
Trees stripped by the tornado on Highway 92 near Osceola, NE. Photo by NWS Staff. Tractor crumpled and tossed in field on Highway 92 near Osceola, NE. Photo by NWS Staff. Twisted tree limbs and debrison Highway 92 near Osceola, NE. Photo by NWS Staff. Semi overturned and tree damage by the tornado on Highway 66 near Polk, NE. Photo by NWS Staff.
Trees stripped by the tornado on Highway 92 west of Osceola.
Photo by NWS Staff.
Tractor crumpled and tossed in field on Highway 92 west of Osceola.
Photo by NWS Staff.
Twisted tree limbs and debris on Highway 92 west of Osceola.
Photo by NWS Staff.
Semi overturned and tree damage by the tornado on Highway 66 near Polk.
Photo by NWS Staff.
   

Storm damage survey and track of the  Polk/Osceola tornado. Reflectivity image of Polk/Osceola Tornado.

Storm damage survey and track of the Polk/Osceola tornado.

KUEX Reflevtivity from approximately 6:17 p.m. CDT. Tornado would have been on the ground on/near Highway 92.



EF-2 Tornadoes: Elm Creek, Rockville, Hampton & Bradshaw

 EF-2 Tornado - Elm Creek, NE (Buffalo County)       (click link to the left for a separate page with additional photos and details)

  • The tornado had an 4 mile path length from approximately 1.5 miles west of Elm Creek, to Elm Creek, to 4 miles north of Elm Creek 
  • Maximum path width of 1/4 of a mile
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 120 mph
  • Time between 3:51 pm - 4:07 pm CDT

Funnel cloud in Elm Creek. Photo Courtesy of Darrin Lewis. Transmission line down near Elm Creek. Photo by NWS staff. Outbuilding destroyed and strewn into a field. Photo by NWS Staff.
Funnel cloud in Elm Creek. Photo Courtesy of Darrin Lewis. Transmission line down near Elm Creek. Photo by NWS staff. Outbuilding destroyed and strewn into a field. Photo by NWS Staff.
Tornadic thunderstorm moving into Elm Creek. Photo Courtesy of Darrin Lewis. House roof and outbuilding destroyed in Elm Creek. Photo by NWS staff. House under construction pushed halfway off its foundation. Photo by NWS Staff.
Tornadic thunderstorm moving into Elm Creek. Photo Courtesy of Darrin Lewis. House roof and outbuilding destroyed in Elm Creek. Photo by NWS staff. House under construction pushed halfway off its foundation. Photo by NWS Staff.
KUEX Reflectivity from 3:58 p.m. CDT. KUEX Velocity from 3:58 p.m. CDT.
KUEX Reflectivity from 3:58 p.m. CDT. KUEX Velocity from 3:58 p.m. CDT.
Storm damage survey map and track of Elm Creek tornado. The EF2 tornado began just west of Elm Creek (beginning of 2nd tornado) and continued through the town of Elm Creek, then north.

Storm damage survey map and track of Elm Creek tornado. The EF2 tornado began just west of Elm Creek (beginning of 2nd tornado) and continued through the town of Elm Creek, then north.

 

 EF-2 Tornado - Rockville, NE (Sherman County)

  • The tornado had a 2.5 mile path length from 6 miles southwest of Rockville to 4 miles southwest of Rockville, NE
  • Maximum path width of 200 yards
  • Maximum estimated wind speed of 120 miles per hour
  • Time between 4:46 p.m. - 4:54 p.m. CDT

This tornado touched down approximtely 6 miles southwest of Rockville, moving to the north before taking a turn to the east as it approached the intersection of Highways 68 and 82A, and lifed approximately 4 miles southwest of Rockville.  Along the path of this tornado, a pole building was destroyed and a home and surrounding trees sustained minor damage.  The maximum wind speed of this tornado was estimated to be 120 mph.

Storm damage survey map and track of Rockville tornado.

Storm damage survey map and track of Rockville tornado.

 

 EF-2 Tornado - Hampton, NE (Hamilton County)       (click link to the left for a separate page with additional photos and details)
  • The tornado had an approximately 9.5 mile path length from 5 miles south-southwest of Hampton to 4 miles north-northeast of Hampton, NE
  • Maximum path width of 1/4 of a mile
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 125 mph
  • Time between 5:25 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. CDT

Tornado one mile east of Hampton.  Photo by Doug Speheger. Tornado near Hampton, NE. Photo by Lonnie Kopecky. Irrigation pipe twisted around a tree north of Hampton. Photo by NWS Staff.
Tornado one mile east of Hampton. Photo by Doug Speheger. Pivot destroyed by tornado near Hampton, which had been lying across the road.
Photo by NWS Staff.

Irrigation pipe twisted around a tree north of Hampton.
Photo by NWS Staff.

Irrigation pipe and tree damage north of Hampton. Photo by NWS Staff. Overturned pivots near Hampton, NE. Photo by Lonnie Kopecky. Irrigation pipe in a field along the tornado path north of Hampton. Photo by NWS Staff.

Irrigation pipe and tree damage north of Hampton.
Photo by NWS Staff.

Overturned pivots near Hampton.
Photo by Lonnie Kopecky.

Irrigation pipe in a field along the tornado path north of Hampton.
Photo by NWS Staff.

Storm damage survey map and track of the Hampton tornado.

Storm damage survey map and track of the Hampton tornado.

 

 EF-2 Tornado - Bradshaw/Polk, NE (York & Polk Counties)    (click link to the left for a separate page with additional photos and details)

  • The tornado had an approximately 15 mile path length from 4 miles southwest of Bradshaw to 4 miles southeast of Polk
  • Maximum path width of 1/4 of a mile
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 130 mph
  • Time between 5:40 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. CDT

    Tornado near Bradshaw.  Photo courtesy of Brett Lyons. Train derailed near Bradshaw. Photo by NWS Staff. House and property damage near Bradshaw.  Photo by NWS staff.
    Tornado near Bradshaw. 
    Photo by Lonnie Kopecky.

    Train derailed near Bradshaw.
    Photo by NWS Staff.

    House and property damage near Bradshaw.  Photo by NWS staff.
    Tornado near Bradshaw.  Photo courtesy of Brett Lyons. Closer view of house damage near Bradshaw.  Photo by NWS staff. Combine crumpled and tossed in field near Bradshaw.  Photo by NWS staff.
    Tornado near Bradshaw.
    Photo courtesy of Brett Lyons.
    Closer view of house damage 4 miles north Bradshaw. Photo by NWS staff. Combine crumpled & tossed in field north of Bradshaw. Photo by NWS staff.

    Storm damage survey map and track of the Bradshaw tornado.

    Storm damage survey map and track of the Bradshaw tornado.

    Combine crumpled and tossed in field near Bradshaw.  Photo by NWS staff.

    KUEX Reflectivity from 5:44 p.m. CDT.



EF-1 Tornadoes: Long Island, KS, Stamford & North Loup, NE

 EF-1 Tornado - Long Island, KS (Phillips County) 

  • The tornado had a an approximately 3.5 mile path length from 5 miles west of Long Island to 4 miles northwest of Long Island
  • Maximum path width of 100 yards
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 90 mph
  • Time between 2:51 p.m. - 2:57 p.m. CDT

This tornado moved into northwest Phillips County approximately 5 miles west of Long Island, after affecting the Almena area in Norton County, shifting to the northeast before lifting approximately 4 miles northwest of Long Island.  A few farm outbuildings sustained damage.   The maximum wind speed of this tornado was estimated to be 90 mph.

 EF-1 Tornado - Stamford, NE (Harlan County)

  • The tornado skipped along a 12 mile path from six miles south of Stamford to six miles north northeast of Stamford, NE
  • Maximum path width of 100 yards
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 95 mph
  • Time between 3:05 pm CDT and 3:32 pm CDT

This tornado skipped along a path which started approximately 8 miles south of Stamford and ended approximately 4 miles north of Stamford. It was noted that this tornado was stationary and multi-vortex early on in its life, and as it shifted to the north destroyed an outbuilding, quonset, and grain bin. Numerous tree limbs were also knocked down. The maximum wind speed of this tornado was estimated to be 95 mph.

 EF-1 Tornado - South of North Loup, NE (Valley County)

  • The tornado had a 1 mile path from 5 miles south of North Loup to 4 miles south of North Loup
  • Maximum path width of 100 yards
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 90 mph
  • Time between 5:35 pm. - 5:40 pm CDT

This tornado touched down near the Davis Creek Reservoir, or approximately 5 miles south of North Loup, and lifted approximately 4 miels south of North Loup. At the Davis Creek Campground, it was estimated ath 60 percent of the trees were damaged, and 2 restroom facilities suffered roof damage. The maximum wind speed of this tornado was estimated to be 90 mph.

Trees down at Davis Creek Reservoir. Restroom facility unroofed at Davis Creek Reservoir.
Trees down at Davis Creek Reservoir.
Restroom facility unroofed at Davis Creek Reservoir.
 

 EF-0 Tornadoes: South of Elm Creek, Pleasanton & Farwell

 EF-0 Tornado - South of Elm Creek, NE (Phelps & Buffalo Counties)

  • The tornado had an approximately 5 mile path from 6 miles south-southwest of Elm Creek to just south of Elm Creek
  • Maximum path width of 300 yards
  • Maximum estimated wind speed 80 mph
  • Time between 3:35 p.m. - 3:52 p.m. CDT

This tornado touched down in northern Phelps County, approximately 6 miles south-southwest of Elm Creek, and moved north into southern Buffalo County, dissipating just south of Elm Creek.  This tornado lifted and touched back down several times along its path, with the main damage coming from overturned irrigation pivots.  The maximum wind speed of this tornado was estimated to be 80 mph.

 EF-0 Tornado - Pleasanton, NE (Buffalo County)

  • The tornado skipped along an approximately 3.5 mile path from 3 miles southeast of Pleasanton to 2 miles east northeast of Pleasanton
  • Maximum path width of 50 yards
  • Time between 4:35 p.m. - 4:50 p.m. CDT
  • No damage was reported with this tornado

 EF-0 Tornado - Farwell, NE (Howard County)

  • The tornado briefly touched down in a field approximately 5 miles west-southwest of Farwell
  • Time around 5:05 pm CDT
  • One irrigation pivot was damaged by this tornado

Tornado near Farwell. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Tillotson.

Tornado near Farwell.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Tillotson.

 

With 12 confirmed tornadoes, several of them significant, this Monday afternoon proved to be the most active tornado day in over three years within the Hastings County Warning Area, since May 29, 2008. This severe weather outbreak primarily targeted western and northeast portions of the area, largely sparing locations south of the Highway 6 corridor between Holdrege and Geneva. The final tornado breakdown per the EF-Scale included two EF-3, four EF-2, three EF-1 and three EF-0. Despite considerable damage to mainly rural residences, these tornadoes resulted in no fatalities and only one known non-life threatening injury when a semi-truck was tipped over near Elm Creek in Buffalo County. This Elm Creek tornado was also the only one to directly strike a community, although there were several close calls within a mile or two of places such as Amherst, Hampton and Bradshaw. Interestingly, tornadic storms also spared the immediate Tri-City population centers of Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney, despite damaging events occurring nearby to both the west and the east. This was largely due to the fact that an expansive mid-level dry intrusion became anchored over central sections of South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas, "protecting" this area from storm development.

In general, there were two distinct corridors of tornadic storms across the area, one focused west of Highway 281, and one mainly east of Highway 281 and along and north of Interstate 80. The first tornadic storm of the day moved into the area shortly before 3 p.m. CDT, as an EF-1 tornado crossed out of Norton County, Kansas, 5 miles west of the community of Long Island, and moved northeast. During its short stay in Phillips County, this tornado damaged a few farm buildings before the parent supercell storm went on to spawn another tornado in Harlan County, Nebraska. This supercell moved into southwestern Harlan County around 3 p.m., spawning an EF-1 tornado in the Stamford area, before weakening. Within minutes however, a newly developed tornadic storm started tracking north from Phelps County into southwestern Buffalo County. Between 3:30 and 4:45 p.m., this storm dropped several tornadoes from near Elm Creek, to north of Amherst, including the first EF-3 of the day. This EF-3 near Amherst intensified to at least 3/4 of a mile wide, and significantly damaged or destroyed at least 10 homes.  An additional tornadic storm that initiated in Buffalo County, along with subsequent storm-scale interactions from further development, moved north and produced several more tornadoes between 4:30 and 5:45 p.m., including an EF-2 southwest of Rockville, and an EF-1 that struck the Davis Creek Reservoir campground south of North Loup.

While tornadoes were ongoing across western portions of the area, vigorous new supercell development took place in eastern portions of South Central Nebraska around 4:30 p.m., just east of the surface triple-point. Two storms in close proximity to one another both became tornadic around 5:30 p.m. near the Hamilton and York County line. The first produced an EF-2 that crossed Interstate 80 southwest of Hampton. As this tornado moved north of Hampton, two farm workers made a narrow escape by sprinting nearly 100 yards to an underground windmill pit and jumping inside as the tornado passed overhead. Just to the east, the other storm also dropped an EF-2 tornado, which also happened to be the longest continuous tornado track of the day, traveling 15 miles from southwest of Bradshaw to near the York-Polk County line. Within a few minutes of this tornado's demise, the cyclic supercell quickly put down the second EF-3 tornado of the day, tracking over 9 miles from east of Polk to west-northwest of Osceola. This tornado grew to around 1/2 of a mile wide, and damaged several farms along the way, with some of the most significant damage along Highway 92. After this tornado dissipated around 6:20 p.m., the parent supercell and other severe storms farther west finally lifted north out of South Central Nebraska. Although this ended the main severe weather event for the evening, a few additional strong to severe storms affected primarily Fillmore and Furnas Counties between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Taking a backseat to significant tornadoes on this day were hail and heavy rainfall. Some of the largest reported hailstones included baseball size in Buffalo County, and tennis ball size in York County. Rainfall-wise, although there were no widespread flooding impacts, localized rural flooding occurred as many locations received 1-3 inches in a rather short time. Some northwestern portions of South Central Nebraska, including parts of Valley, Greeley and Sherman Counties measured 48-hour rainfall totals into the 3-4 inch range.

The set up responsible for this outbreak was a seasonably powerful mid-level low pressure system lifting into western Kansas and Nebraska out of Colorado, deepening and closing off as it did so. Strong wind fields aloft were in place at all levels, with a 50-70 knot jet streak nosing into the region between the 500 and 300 millibar level, and an 850-millibar low-level jet accelerating to between 30 and 40 knots. At the surface, a well-defined 992-millibar low pressure center migrated from north central Kansas around the noon hour, to near Hastings by early evening. A synoptically classic array of surface boundaries evolved around this low pressure center, with a warm front lifting north across South Central Nebraska, while a cold front and dryline pushed in from the west and southwest. In addition, a well-defined inverted surface trough axis extended nearly due north from the surface low into north central Nebraska. The net combination synoptic and mesoscale features yielded a very favorable setup for tornadic supercells across the area. At mid-afternoon, shear and instability parameters included approximately 50 knots of deep-layer vertical wind shear, 15-25 knots of 0-1 kilometer low-level vertical wind shear, 150 to over 300 m2/s2 of surface-to-1 kilometer storm-relative helicity and 2000-4000 J/kg mixed-layer CAPE.

NWS Hastings would like to thank ALL storm spotters, law enforcement/emergency management, and storm chasers who assisted in providing a wealth of valuable severe weather and tornado reports during this event!

  

Sampling of Meteorological Maps
surface weather map at 4 pm  500mb map  Analysis of derived "Significant Tornado Parameter" valid 5 PM June 20th

Central Plains surface weather map valid at 4 PM June 20, 2011, depicting low pressure system and fronts

 500 millibar analysis valid at 4 PM June 20th, depicting strong mid level low pressure system.

 Analysis of derived "Significant Tornado Parameter" valid 5 PM June 20th

     
MLCAPE 0-6km shear 0-1km shear

 Mixed-layer Convective Available Potential Energy (MLCAPE) valid at 4 PM June 20th, 2011

 0-6 km bulk shear magnitude valid 5 PM, June 20th

0-1 km bulk shear magnitude valid 5 PM, June 20th


This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.

 

 
 
 

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