Tornadoes – What You Need To Know

Ryan Renner - Omaha Real Estate Agent
By: Ryan Renner, Realtor

I have helped many families moving to Omaha. Contact me if you have any questions about the Omaha area or need help buying a home.

Yes, Omaha has had tornadoes in the past. Historically, tornadoes have been a high occurrence in the state of Nebraska. However, things have quieted down over the past few years.

Tornadoes Have Been Trending Down

Several factors determine the drop in tornadoes, such as cool weather and dry spells during tornado season. Even though Omaha has had very few tornadoes over the past few years with most of them missing them and hitting some of the small towns in surrounding counties, this is not a trend that can be relied on. Each year is different.

2008 Millard Tornado

The most recent confirmed tornado touchdown inside Omaha was in 2008. An EF-2 tornado with winds around 120 mph touched down in Millard in the middle of the night.

There was some isolated property damage and that’s about it.

Historic Tornadoes

In 1913, a tornado crashed through Midtown Omaha on Easter Sunday. Around 100 people were killed and several hundred were injured.

On May 6th, 1975, a tornado ripped through the center of Omaha once again. It killed three people and injured over 100. It caused $250 million – $500 million in damage. It was the eighth-worst tornado in regard to damage in U.S. history.

Do I need a basement?

Most houses in Omaha have basements or shelters in case a tornado does come.

A basement is not required but certainly preferred if a tornado hits. If you don’t have a basement, you should head to an interior room with no windows.

Tornado Watches and Warnings

I was suprised to learn a lot of people get “watches” and “warnings” confused. And if you’ve never lived in tornado alley, you may have no idea what I’m talking about.

The National Weather Service will declare a tornado watch whenever conditions are right for a tornado to potentially form. A “watch” can last several hours.

A tornado warning is issued when a trained spotter has identified a tornado or it is identified via radar.

When a tornado warning is issued, you will hear the sirens across the city.

They test this system on the first Wednesday of the month to make sure it continues working.

If you are outside when a tornado warning is called, get inside to a shelter as soon as possible. If you can’t, find a ditch and stay low to the ground, protecting yourself from any potential debris.

Flying debris is what makes a tornado so dangerous.

If you are inside, avoid windows at all costs.

Should I Be Concerned?

Ultimately, tornadoes rarely happen inside of the city. Normally when there is a touchdown, minimal damage is done. However, there is always the possibility of a catastrophe happening. If you follow the safety measures that are in place, you will be able to stay safe from any tornado that might happen.