Wayne tornado: EF4, 170 MPH winds, 1.38 miles wide, 19 mile damage path
The National Weather Service in Omaha says the Friday night tornado that destroyed homes and businesses in northeast Nebraska was a powerful EF4 in places, with winds reaching 170 miles per hour.
The weather service, in a preliminary damage survey, said Saturday night the tornado at one time was 1.38 miles wide and was on the ground for a total of 19 miles.
The violent tornado began 8 miles southwest of Wayne and gained strength as it headed northeast. A farmstead about four-and-half miles southwest of Wayne sustained substantial damage.
The tornado became about a-mile-and-quarter wide as it severely damaged another farmstead and caused EF3 damage to two homes along Highway 15 just south of Wayne. The tornado missed the downtown and residential districts, and severely damaged the softball complex on the southeast side of Wayne.
The report says the most significant damage occurred in the industrial park on the east side of Wayne, where numerous metal building structures, some quite large, sustained serious damage or were mangled into rubble.
The tornado then crossed Highway 35 and had a direct hit on the Wayne Municipal Airport. Two hangers were flattened, and some private aircraft were tumbled and ripped up. The tornado then struck another farmstead and a home northeast of the airport.
The storm then crossed into Dixon county, where more trees, crops and farmsteads were damaged before the tornado narrowed and dissipated about 6 miles north-northwest of Wakefield.
In all, 15 people were injured, and one person suffered critical injuries, according to The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. Wayne said their Chief Information Officer John Dunning was seriously injured in the tornado and was in a medically induced coma.
Gov. Dave Heineman, who issued an emergency declaration for the area Friday night, will fly to the region Sunday to survey tornado damage.
Wayne Mayor Ken Chamberlin says damage to the community is in the millions of dollars and that the rebuilding process will be lengthy.
The local public health department will provide tetanus shots Sunday afternoon to anyone injured in the recovery and response.
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