Watch: Tornado rips across highway in Nebraska

The tornado was pictured crossing Interstate 80, northeast of Lincoln – BRYCE SHELTON

A storm chaser in Nebraska has captured the moment a massive tornado ripped across a highway on Friday. Injuries have been reported in the US Plains state.

The big twister, which was moving at about 40mph, crossed Interstate 80, northeast of Lincoln, the state capital.

Multiple tornadoes have been reported across the state but the most destructive storm moved from a largely rural area into suburbs northwest of Omaha, a city of 485,000 people. 

One tornado plowed through suburban Omaha, damaging hundreds of homes and other structures as the twister tore for miles along farmland and into subdivisions. Some injuries were reported but there were no immediate reports that anyone was killed.

A clip shared on social media appears to show that one tornado was strong enough to flip a large articulated truck onto its side.

In a clip shared online by Bryce Shelton, a videographer who records tornadoes and other storms, drivers can be seen pulling over to the side of the 80 to escape the path of the colossal twister.

Tornado just crossed i-80 Northeast of Lincoln, Nebraska. pic.twitter.com/mOgknDcCvF

— Bryce Shelton (@BryceShelton01) April 26, 2024

TORNADO INTERCEPT from the LIVE stream moments ago Northeast of Lincoln, Nebraska. As the tornado crosses over i-80. I am still LIVE on YouTube – https://t.co/Qwvmm5rdmm pic.twitter.com/RJYzMnXBaz

— Bryce Shelton (@BryceShelton01) April 26, 2024

In another clip by videographer Aaron Jayjack, a truck appears to have been overturned on a highway.

VIOLENT tornado just crossed the interstate 80 Lincoln, NE @RadarOmega #newx pic.twitter.com/bQM5UVLyrJ

— Aaron Jayjack (@aaronjayjack) April 26, 2024

Photos on social media showed heavily damaged homes and shredded trees. Video showed homes with roofs stripped of shingles, in a rural area near Omaha. Law enforcement were blocking off roads in the area.

KETV-TV video showed one woman being removed from a demolished home on a stretcher in Blair, a city just north of Omaha.

Damage to a house after a tornado passed near Omaha – Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald/AP

Hundreds of houses sustained damage in Omaha, mostly in the Elkhorn area in the western part of the city, Omaha police lieutenant Neal Bonacci said.

Police and firefighters are now going door-to-door helping people who are trapped. Omaha Fire Chief Kathy Bossman said crews had gone to the “hardest hit area” and had a plan to search anywhere someone could be trapped.

“They’re going to be putting together a strategic plan for a detailed search of the area, starting with the properties with most damage,” Ms Bossman said. “We’ll be looking throughout properties in debris piles, we’ll be looking in basements, trying to find any victims and make sure everybody is rescued who needs assistance.”

Lt. Bonacci said many homes were destroyed or severely damaged. “You definitely see the path of the tornado,” he said.

Firefighters assess the damage to houses after a tornado passed through the area near Omaha – Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald/AP

In one area of Elkhorn, dozens of newly built, large homes were damaged. At least six were wrecked, including one that was leveled, while others had the top half ripped off. There were dozens of emergency vehicles in the area.

“We watched it touch down like 200 yards over there and then we took shelter,” said Pat Woods, who lives in Elkhorn. “We could hear it coming through. When we came up our fence was gone and we looked to the northwest and the whole neighbourhood’s gone.”

His wife, Kim Woods added, “The whole neighbourhood just to the north of us is pretty flattened.”

A man walks past his house after it was levelled by a tornado near Omaha – Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald/AP

KETV-TV video showed one woman being removed from a wrecked home on a stretcher in Blair, a city just north of Omaha.

Lt. Bonacci said only two people have been transported for treatment, both with minor injuries.

He said crews are now doing a second search of homes. He said fire crews would work throughout the night to check all the unsafe structures and make sure no one is inside.

“People had warnings of this and that saved lives,” Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said, of the few serious injuries.

Severe weather can make great photos, but dangerous travel. If traveling this afternoon or this evening, check the weather forecast. If you come across a tornado, pull over and find shelter, if there is no shelter, go to a ditch or low laying area. Never try to out run a tornado! pic.twitter.com/0RXN4tmhYB

— Nebraska DOT (@NebraskaDOT) April 26, 2024

Before the tornado hit the Omaha area, three workers were injured on Friday afternoon when a tornado struck an industrial plant in Lancaster County, sheriff’s officials said in an update on the damage.

The building just northeast of the state capital of Lincoln had collapsed with about 70 employees inside and several people trapped, sheriff’s officials said. Everyone was evacuated, and three people had injuries that were considered not life-threatening, authorities said.

Officials say they also had reports of a tipped-over train near Waverly, also in Lancaster County, about 12 miles north east of Lincoln.

The Omaha Public Power District reported that nearly 10,000 customers were without power in the Omaha area.

A tornado begins to touch down near the US Route 275 highway close to the Platte River near Omaha – Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald/AP

Daniel Fienhold, manager of the Pink Poodle Steakhouse in Crescent, Iowa, said he was outside watching the weather with his daughter and restaurant employees. He said “it looked like a pretty big tornado was forming” northeast of town.

“It started raining, and then it started hailing, and then all the clouds started to kind of swirl and come together, and as soon as the wind started to pick up, that’s when I headed for the basement, but we never saw it,” Mr Fienhold said.

The forecast for Saturday was ominous. The Weather Service also issued tornado watches across parts of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. And forecasters warned that large hail and strong wind gusts were possible.

The tornado warning was issued in the Omaha area on Friday afternoon just as children were due to be released from school. Many schools had students shelter in place until the storm passed. Hours later, buses were still transporting students home.

Residents discuss the damage in their neighbourhood of Bennington, northwest of Omaha – Josh Funk/AP

“Was it one long track tornado or was it several tornadoes?” said Becky Kern, the warning co-ordination meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Omaha office.

She said the agency planned to send out multiple crews over the next several days to determine the number of tornadoes and their strength, and that it could take up to two weeks to finish the evaluation.

“It does look like a big outbreak again tomorrow,” Ms Kern said on Friday. “Maybe slightly farther south.”

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