600 Tornado Warnings later, 2 weeks of severe weather storms finally come to an end

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Late April and early May are smack dab in the middle of severe weather season.

Unfortunately, this season has brought two weeks of nonstop storms, which have left residents in the U.S. scrambling for shelter as more than 600 Tornado Warnings blared and twisters left trails of devastation across multiple states.

Here is a look back at all the stormy days that plagued much of the nation’s heartland over the past two weeks.

April 26 

The first outbreak occurred on April 26 when strong tornadoes struck eastern Nebraska and into western Iowa, even crossing Interstate 80 at one point.

The Omaha suburb of Elkhorn was directly hit by the tornado, and several homes were destroyed. Garner Industries sustained severe damage, and a massive train derailed near Waverly. Omaha’s airport suffered significant damage to its general aviation buildings.

FOX Weather Storm Tracker Corey Gerken captured video of one of the powerful tornadoes crossing Interstate 80 outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. Multiple tornadoes around the area received EF-3 ratings, and three people were injured.

The National Weather Service office in Omaha issued 48 Tornado Warnings, the most they have ever issued in a single day.

Another tornado went on to cause significant damage in Minden, Iowa, where one person was killed while attempting to shelter from the storm.

The tornado caused significant damage to 180 homes in the town of 600 people, with nearly half of those homes considered destroyed, town officials said. Additionally, many businesses along Main Street were damaged.

April 27

At least four people were killed and several others were injured Saturday when devastating tornadoes tore through several Oklahoma cities during a severe weather outbreak that caused catastrophic damage to numerous homes and buildings and knocked out power to tens of thousands of utility customers.

The hardest-hit town was Sulphur, which is known for its eclectic shops, artists, restaurants, murals and history. However, it was unrecognizable after the nocturnal tornado on April 27. While visiting Sulphur the day after the tornado, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he hadn’t seen tornado damage this bad in his six years in office. 

“I’ve seen a lot of damage. I’ve been around the state for this is my sixth year, but what I saw in downtown Sulphur is unbelievable,” he said.

In addition, an EF-4 tornado caused severe damage in Marietta, while another EF-3 tornado struck Holden

April 30

Severe storms lingered into the morning of April 28, and then the 29th featured the quietest day of the stretch, with just one tornado report amid 9 severe weather reports nationwide. The break was short-lived.

On April 30, an EF-3 tornado roared through the Kansas town of Westmoreland, with nearly two dozen homes destroyed and another 13 heavily damaged. The National Weather Service said the twister had winds up to 140 mph. One person was found dead in a mobile home.


May 2

Severe storms veered back into Texas on May 2 with an EF-3 tornado that damaged several homes in Hawley, Texas.  The storm injured 4, including some of the Lambert family, whose home was torn apart by the twister. As the family of four sheltered inside, their young son was pulled from the home and tossed into a pile of debris.

But storm chaser Freddy McKinney was there moments after the tornado struck and scooped up the family and got them to a hospital.

May 4

Attention turned from tornadoes to devastating flooding as torrential rains dumped 12-20 inches of rain in East Texas, overwhelming the San Jacinto and Trinity Rivers to levels not seen since Hurricane Harvey.

Several hundred homes were flooded — some up to the rooflines. A young boy was killed when he was swept away in rapid waters.

May 6

Tornadic storms roared back to life on May 6, kicking off three straight days of deadly tornadoes.

Oklahoma took the brunt of the storms on the 6th, with a devastating EF-4 tornado that destroyed several homes in Barnsdall and into Bartlesville with incredible winds estimated at 165-175 mph. 

One person was killed, but officials credited ample warning time for the approaching storms in keeping the death toll from being far worse. 

Still, there were several stories of harrowing survival from those who rode out the storm, including residents at a Bartlesville Hampton Inn as the tornado tore part of the hotel apart.

May 7

On May 7, the storms moved east into the Great Lakes, and 15 tornadoes were reported in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

An EF-2 tornado caused significant damage to homes and businesses in Portage, Michigan, including a FedEx facility. The sheriff’s office said that at least 176 homes were damaged inside the Pavilion Estates Mobile Home Park in Kalamazoo, and between 16 and 20 injuries were reported across the county. 

All those who were injured were taken to local hospitals, and none of the injuries were significant.

In Missouri, a tornado took out part of a pub but somehow managed to leave some of the bottles still standing.


May 8

On May 8, the storms unleashed their wrath on the Tennessee Valley into the Carolinas. Fatalities were reported in two states as severe storms caused over 900 miles of damage, resulting in 13 reports of tornadoes. 

The storms appeared to impact the country in clusters, with Tennessee, southern Illinois and northern Alabama being the hardest hit by tornadoes. There were also hundreds of hail and damaging wind reports in nearby states.

South of Nashville, in Maury County, Tennessee, a tornado removed two homes from their foundations in Columbia, according to officials. Tragically, a woman who lived in one of those homes was found dead in a nearby wooded area. Following the storm, emergency responders in the county rescued at least 12 people trapped under debris or stranded in wooded areas.


May 10

The severe weather streak finally ended as the last line of thunderstorms rolled across the South the night of May 9, reaching the Florida Panhandle on the morning of May 10. But nature had one more parting shot, blasting Tallahassee with wind gusts over 80 mph and potentially spawning multiple tornadoes. One person was killed, and storm debris littered the town.

According to the FOX Forecast Center, at least four tornadoes were confirmed on radar in Tallahassee, Florida, on Friday morning, while thunderstorms produced gusts as high as 84 mph.

“The reports that I’m receiving is that we had wind gusts between 80 and 100 mph … that’s hurricane strength,” Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey told FOX Weather. “It was a significant storm that came through, and what is concerning is we haven’t even gotten into the storm season, per se.”

Overall, there were more than 300 reports of tornadoes and over 2,000 spotter reports of severe weather or damage.

However, long-range forecasts show a shift in the pattern that will thankfully bring a well-earned break in widespread severe weather outbreaks. 

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center isn’t highlighting any area of heightened severe weather concern over at least the next 8 days.

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