OMAHA, Nebraska | DMN — Severe storms will focus around the Midwest heading into the new week with thunderstorms eventually reaching the Northeast. Those looking to spend the second half of the weekend in the outdoors from Wisconsin through eastern Nebraska should prepare for the severe weather as thunderstorms ramp up during the afternoon and evening hours. “The impacts of the storms will be damaging winds, hail, heavy rain and tornadoes.” said AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity.
Southern Iowa and northern Missouri appear to be the areas at greatest risk of being slammed by these severe storms on Sunday afternoon and the areas most likely to have significant tornadoes. Before the outbreak unfolds later Sunday, the day is starting with locally severe thunderstorms rattling Nebraska and Kansas. Sunday will be only the first of a multiple-day severe-weather outbreak over the Midwest. “The storms will sweep through and impact cities from Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis Monday and Monday night, then will move into Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh on Tuesday.” said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Similar to the storms on Sunday, damaging winds, hail, flooding downpours and even a few tornadoes should be expected on Monday and Tuesday with Monday being the more active of the two days. The timing of these storms can lead to high impacts around the major travel hubs in the Midwest on Monday and Tuesday. Evening commutes can turn treacherous as torrential downpours significantly reduce visibility for those driving on the roadways, as well as increase the risk of hydroplaning. Those headed to the airports should also prepare for delays not only because of the extreme weather, but also the higher volume of travelers for the Independence Day week.
As storms roll through, temporary ground stops may be put in place at major airports such as O’Hare International in Chicago. This can backup flight departures through the rest of the day as airplanes become backed up on the tarmac. Wind gusts associated with the storms will also lead to power outages and property damage as they are expected to be strong enough to blow over trees and power poles. Looking ahead to Wednesday, showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for much of the Northeast as the storm system continues to shift eastward. However, severe weather on Wednesday is not expected to be as widespread as Monday and Tuesday as the system responsible for the thunderstorms weakens. Soaking downpours will still be possible which can lead to urban flooding.
LINCOLN, Nebraska | DMN — Authorities in Nebraska have mistakenly freed hundreds of prisoners over several years due to correction officials miscalculating their sentences. Law enforcement is now looking to put dozens of them behind bars again. All in all, 306 inmates were freed erroneously, a situation first exposed by local media outlet Omaha World-Herald. 257 of them won’t be pursued, on condition that they don’t commit any offenses – because they would have completed their sentences by now. Three others died since they were let go, and five have successfully completed their parole. On top of that, 567 inmates, who weren’t released, received incorrect sentences, AP reported. “Obviously, there was a mistake made. The individuals who made those mistakes are going to be held accountable. <…> There’s no way this should have occurred,” Governor Dave Heineman stated on Friday.
Michael Kenney, who was appointed director of the Department of Correctional Services in September, has already declared that his agency takes full responsibility for the error. He added that his people are”scrambling” to correct the prison sentences, refusing to say if the miscalculation was accidental, or prison officials simply ignored the message from Nebraska’s attorney in the first place. The mistake, as reported by Omaha World-Herald, is that the Department of Correctional Services failed to observe two Nebraska Supreme Court rulings that indicate the correct way to calculate prison sentences.
Inmates who get a mandatory minimum sentence first have to complete that term before starting to earn so-called “good time” credit, which can cut their remaining term in half. An example is inmate Marvin Buggs, who was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for manslaughter and wasn’t released. However, his sentence was still miscalculated. The mandatory minimum in his case would be 10 years before the start of “good time” – which means he would serve 20 years before becoming eligible for parole. Instead, he was allowed to start his “good time” period right away, and would have been released in 15 years.
An unknown number of prisoners were re-incarcerated on Thursday, and state officials refused to identify them for safety concerns. 20 to 25 arrest warrants were issued in eight counties in Nebraska. Some of the former prisoners would qualify for furlough programs – temporary release from custody – and one is being paroled. The prisoners have one to four years remaining in their sentences, AP reported, citing Attorney General Jon Bruning. Many of the inmates are habitual prisoners, and some of them are considered dangerous, Bruning added.
PILGER, Nebraska | DMN — A deadly duo of massive, relentlessly fast-moving tornadoes rained down terror in northeast Nebraska on Monday evening. Photos from the tiny town of Pilger, Nebraska show a community devastated after 200MPH winds ripped though and leveled entire neighborhoods, gutted the town’s middle school and destroyed it’s Farmer’s Co-Op and much of its farming infrastructure as corn silos crumpled in the face of the winds. As Monday evening turned to night, two casualties had been reported, with at least 16 critically injured in the area. At least one of those killed was a child.
The National Weather Service continued to warn of possible tornadoes over large swaths of both Nebraska and Iowa, as well as the flash floods and severe thunderstorms also birthed by these powerful storm systems. ‘I’m standing in Pilger, and I see devastation,’ Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt told the Lincoln Journal-Star. ‘It looks like a war zone. It absolutely looks like a war zone.’ First responders swarmed what was left of Pilger, but some witnesses described the gut-wrenching rescue efforts as disorganized at best. ‘There are a lot of people around not too much organization,’ said Weatherholt.
The initial efforts proved daunting as rescuers were faced with the chaos of near total destruction. ‘We’re still digging people out,’ Stanton County emergency manager Sanford Goshorn told CNN on Monday night. At least three tornadoes were reported in the area Monday evening, with more potentially to come through early Tuesday. Two of the menacing storms are believed to have had an intensity of EF-4, which are some of the deadliest and most destructive. Experts, some of whom had never seen the double twister phenomenon, made it clear that the rare occurrence was one for the record books. ‘This is a significant storm, and one that I have never seen the likes of, ever. Really,’ said Weather Channel severe weather expert Dr. Greg Postel.
Meteorologist Barbara Mayes says the tornadoes that touched down were about a mile apart, near the towns of Stanton and Pilger, 100 miles northwest of Omaha. While storm clusters are sometimes seen with multiple tornadoes, usually one is the dominant storm while the other less powerful twisters rotate around it. In an almost unheard of occurrence, the Pilger tornadoes were almost equally powerful as both were capable of producing 200MPH winds. ‘It was like God dragged two fingernails across the the land,’ witness Gregg Moeller told the Norfolk Daily News. ‘Oh my God, the damage is unbelievable.’
The titanic storm systems that formed these deadly twisters have also brought with them into the region golf ball sized hail, severe thunderstorms and damaging non-cyclonic winds. ‘We’ve had reports of brief touchdowns as the storms near Sioux City, Iowa,’ National Weather Service Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp told CNN as the weather system that destroyed Pilger moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. ‘We’ve had widespread wind and flooding damage due to the series of storms that have been ongoing today. We’ve had reports of up to 4 inches of rain within an hour in the tri-state area. The main thing is widespread tree damage,’ he said.
Photographer Brian Davidson was on the ground in Pilger, where he said every structure he could see for five or six blocks had suffered damage. ‘There’s no street signs left,’ he told Omaha.com. ‘Cars are tossed.’ Davidson said he even saw a car inside a home. ‘It’s very chaotic here right now,’ he said. Pilger’s nickname for itself, ‘The Town too Tuff to Die’ may seem a bitter irony now that so much of the village appeared to have been blown away like dust. Emergency crews and residents spent the evening sorting through demolished homes and businesses in the town roughly 100 miles northwest of Omaha. ‘More than half of the town is gone – absolutely gone,’ Weatherholt said. ‘The co-op is gone, the grain bins are gone, and it looks like almost every house in town has some damage. It’s a complete mess.’
Victims were taken to three regional hospitals, and at least one had died from unspecified injuries, hospital officials said. Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger estimated that 50 to 75 percent of Pilger was heavily damaged or destroyed in the storm. The local school is likely beyond repair, he said. ‘It’s total devastation,’ Unger said. Unger said five people had to be rescued from a rural home day care northwest of Stanton. That home was hit just before the storm moved into Pilger. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard was preparing to deploy to assist local emergency responders and help with the cleanup. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency was expected to arrive in town Tuesday morning.
Pilger was evacuated for the night, and the Nebraska State Patrol closed all roads into town. Most residents made their own arrangements, but some were taken to a shelter in the nearby town of Wisner, Unger said. Tornadoes also caused damage in Cuming and Wayne counties, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said in a news release. ‘We are still in a response mode in these communities,’ said Earl Imler, NEMA’s operations officer. ‘We are collecting damage reports from local officials on the ground.’ Faith Regional Health Services in nearby Norfolk was treating 16 patients with critical injuries, and one person had died, said hospital spokeswoman Jodi Richey. Providence Medical Center in nearby Wayne treated three tornado patients, including two who had lacerations, said hospital spokeswoman Sandy Bartling. Two were released Monday evening, and the third patient was in stable condition, she said. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service were also tracking a tornado near the town of Burwell, in central Nebraska.
Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt told the Nebraska newspaper the twisters obliterated office buildings, churches and schools.
“Houses are plumb gone,” he said. “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Now, the town feels like a war zone, he said. More tornadoes were reported throughout the state Monday, as the storm traveled through Nebraska and into Iowa after it ripped through Pilger. Meteorologists have forecast a slight chance of more severe storms in the region Tuesday.
PILGER, Nebraska | DMN — A powerful tornado struck the town of Pilger, Nebraska, around 4 p.m. Monday. Brian Davidson, a freelance photojournalist and storm chaser in Pilger around 5 p.m., said the northern part of Pilger had been hit by one or two tornadoes. Every structure he could see for five or six blocks in the Stanton County community of 378 had been damaged. Some injuries may have occurred. “There’s no street signs left,” Davidson said. “Cars are tossed.” He also saw a car inside a home. “It’s very chaotic here right now.” He talked to a group of people who had sheltered in a vault in a bank and emerged OK.
Stanton County emergency officials could not be reached by telephone. The Nebraska State Patrol has closed Nebraska Highway 24 from Norfolk to Stanton and shut down U.S. Highway 275 and Nebraska Highway 15 in Stanton County, said Deb Collins, a spokewoman for the patrol. “We are requesting motorists stay off the roadways so we can get emergency services into the area,” Collins said. The Farmers Co-operative in Pilger also was reported to have suffered significant damage, with some buildings destroyed, the Norfolk Daily News reported. Cheryl Husmann said her husband, Lyle, was in Pilger when the tornado struck, but he found refuge in the Village Cafe, along with others. “They’re OK, but there’s a lots and lots of damage” to the town, she said.
Husmann said early reports are that the post office in Pilger, the bank and a Lutheran church all may have suffered significant damage. Eric Anderson, a storm chaser with Tornado Raiders, said he and his crew saw both the main tornado that hit Pilger and a smaller one. They were not able to enter the town. Emergency officials were not letting anyone enter at that time. “It’s a mess,” Anderson said. He and his crew continued north and east tracking the storm past Pender, heading toward Emerson. The supercell that spawned the tornadoes has been tracking to the northeast at approximately 25 miles-per-hour. In addition to the tornadoes, large hail has been reported with some up to two-inches in diameter.
OMAHA, Nebraska | DMN — Severe weather is unfolding across portions of the northern Plains have spawned multiple tornadoes across Nebraska, causing damage to at least one structure. The primary threats accompanying the storms are large hail, damaging winds, flooding downpours and isolated tornadoes. The severe weather threat is expected to encompass areas from Omaha, Nebraska to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis, along with Des Moines, Iowa and Madison Wisconsin is expected to be impacted later Monday evening. The College World Series is taking place in Omaha, and there are two games scheduled for today, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., CDT. Due to the severe weather, there is the likelihood that the games could enter a weather delay and fans should be alert to rapidly changing weather conditions. The severe weather threat will not end today however, as severe storms are expected to continue to fire up across the Ohio Valley this week.
DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0258 PM CDT MON JUN 16 2014
VALID 162000Z - 171200Z
...THERE IS A MDT RISK OF SVR TSTMS SERN SD AND PARTS OF ERN NEB
THROUGH SRN MN...NRN/CNTRL IA INTO SWRN WI...
...THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS PARTS OF THE NRN AND CNTRL
PLAINS INTO MID-UPPER MIDWEST...
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF POTENTIALLY WIDESPREAD DAMAGING
WIND...VERY LARGE HAIL AND TORNADOES...WILL OCCUR TODAY INTO TONIGHT
FROM PARTS OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH DAKOTA AND CENTRAL AND EASTERN
NEBRASKA EASTWARD ACROSS MUCH OF IOWA...SOUTHERN MINNESOTA...INTO
WISCONSIN. OF PARTICULAR CONCERN WILL BE FROM PORTIONS OF NORTHEAST
NEBRASKA INTO ADJACENT PARTS OF SOUTH DAKOTA AND IOWA THAT AFTERNOON
AND EVENING...WHERE A FEW SIGNIFICANT AND/OR A VIOLENT TORNADO IN
ADDITION TO LARGE...DAMAGING HAIL AND WINDS WILL BE POSSIBLE.
...NRN/CNTRL PLAINS INTO UPPER MIDWEST THROUGH TONIGHT...
MOST OF THE ONGOING FORECAST REMAINS ON TRACK. THE SLIGHT RISK HAS
BEEN EXTENDED INTO PORTIONS OF W-CENTRAL INTO CENTRAL IL. REF MCD
1016 FOR MORE DETAILS. ADDITIONALLY...TORNADO THREAT APPEARS TO BE
INCREASING ACROSS PORTION OF NEB/FAR SE SD AND ADJACENT PORTIONS OF
IA. REF MCD 1015 FOR MORE DETAILS. 19Z OBSERVED RAOB FROM OAX
INDICATES STRONG LOW LEVEL SHEAR WITH LARGE CYCLONICALLY CURVED
HODOGRAPH AND EXTREME INSTABILITY. WITH THE ADDED FOCUS OF AN
OUTFLOW BOUNDARY FROM EARLIER CONVECTION...SEVERAL SIG TORS AND/OR A
VIOLENT TORNADO CAN NOT BE RULED OUT. AS SUCH...UPGRADE TO 15% SIG
TORNADO PROBABILITIES APPEAR WARRANTED.
ELSEWHERE...NO CHANGES WERE MADE.
.PREV DISCUSSION... /ISSUED 1128 AM CDT MON JUN 16 2014/
A TROUGH OVER THE WRN U.S. WILL INTENSIFY DURING THE DAY ONE PERIOD
IN RESPONSE TO THE EQUATORWARD PROGRESSION OF MID AND UPPER-LEVEL
JET STREAKS FROM THE FAR NERN PACIFIC INTO THE TROUGH BASE OVER THE
GREAT BASIN. DOWNSTREAM FROM THESE DEVELOPMENTS...MORNING WATER
VAPOR IMAGERY INDICATES A LOW-AMPLITUDE SHORT-WAVE TROUGH
PROGRESSING INTO THE NRN AND CNTRL PLAINS WITH THIS FEATURE
CONTINUING ENEWD INTO THE UPPER GREAT LAKES BY LATE TONIGHT/EARLY
AT THE SURFACE...A LEE CYCLONE OVER WRN SD WILL DEVELOP EWD ALONG A
NWD-MOVING WARM FRONT INTO CNTRL MN BY 17/00Z BEFORE REACHING NRN WI
BY 17/12Z. MEANWHILE...SECONDARY LOW PRESSURE OVER NERN CO WILL
DEVELOP INTO SWRN NEB WHILE A DRYLINE SLOWLY MIXES EWD OVER THE
CNTRL AND SRN HIGH PLAINS.
...NRN/CNTRL PLAINS INTO UPPER MIDWEST TODAY THROUGH TONIGHT...
12Z OBSERVED SOUNDINGS FROM LBF...DDC...AND TOP SHOWED A VERY MOIST
BOUNDARY LAYER WITH LOWEST-100-MB MEAN-MIXING RATIOS OF 14-15 G PER
KG SURMOUNTED BY 700-500-MB LAPSE RATES OF 8-9 C/KM. DIFFERENTIAL
ADVECTIONS ASSOCIATED WITH A NEWD-MIGRATING 40-50 KT LLJ AND
STRENGTHENING SWLY FLOW IN THE 700-500-MB LAYER WILL RESULT IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF A SIMILAR THERMODYNAMIC STRATIFICATION INTO THE MID
MO VALLEY TODAY WITH AFTERNOON MLCAPE VALUES OF 3000-4000+ J/KG TO
THE S OF THE WARM FRONT.
SEVERE TSTMS HAVE DEVELOPED THIS MORNING FROM THE VICINITY OF THE
WARM FRONT OVER ERN SD SWD INTO THE WARM SECTOR OVER ERN NEB WITH
THIS ACTIVITY LIKELY BEING FORCED BY WAA ALONG THE LLJ AND FORCING
FOR ASCENT ATTENDANT TO THE ABOVE-MENTIONED SHORT-WAVE TROUGH MOVING
INTO THE NRN AND CNTRL PLAINS. GIVEN THE CONTINUED INFLUX OF THE
MODERATE TO STRONGLY UNSTABLE AIR MASS FROM THE S/SW...EXPECT A
SUBSET OF THESE STORMS TO EVOLVE INTO A FORWARD PROPAGATING MCS
/WITH EMBEDDED SUPERCELL AND BOWING STRUCTURES/ WITH THE RISK FOR
VERY LARGE HAIL...TORNADOES...AND POTENTIALLY WIDESPREAD DAMAGING
WINDS AFFECTING PORTIONS OF SRN MN AND IA THROUGH THIS
AFTERNOON...AND EVENTUALLY INTO PARTS OF WI AND NRN IL THIS EVENING
OTHER MORE ISOLATED STORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP THIS AFTERNOON
FROM WRN SD TO N-CNTRL KS AS LOW-LEVEL CONVERGENCE IS ENHANCED BY
THE DEEPENING SURFACE LOW OVER SWRN NEB. THE CO-LOCATION OF MODERATE
TO STRONG INSTABILITY WITH VERTICALLY VEERING WIND PROFILES WITH
35-50 KT OF EFFECTIVE BULK SHEAR WILL BE QUITE FAVORABLE FOR
SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF VERY LARGE HAIL...AND TORNADOES...A COUPLE OF
WHICH COULD BE SIGNIFICANT. THE GREATEST TORNADO RISK MAY
MATERIALIZE WITH ANY MATURE SUPERCELLS THAT CAN FAVORABLY INTERACT
WITH THE OUTFLOW BOUNDARY GENERATED BY THE EARLY-DAY STORMS OVER ERN
PARTS OF SD/NEB.
...OH VALLEY TO MID ATLANTIC THIS AFTERNOON/EVENING...
TSTMS HAVE FORMED THIS MORNING ACROSS SRN PARTS OF IL/IND INTO CNTRL
OH...PERHAPS IN RESPONSE TO THE GLANCING INFLUENCE OF A SHORT-WAVE
TROUGH MOVING THROUGH THE UPPER GREAT LAKES. ABUNDANT SUNSHINE
COUPLED WITH BOUNDARY LAYER DEWPOINTS IN THE 60S AND A MODESTLY
STRONG UNIDIRECTIONAL WIND PROFILE MAY SUPPORT A GRADUAL
INTENSIFICATION OF STORMS BY AFTERNOON FARTHER DOWNSTREAM WITH A
RISK FOR LOCALLY STRONG WIND GUSTS.
ADDITIONAL STRONG TO MARGINALLY SEVERE STORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE THIS
AFTERNOON OVER THE MID ATLANTIC AS FORCING FOR ASCENT IS ENHANCED BY
A WEAK VORTICITY MAXIMUM CURRENTLY OVER THE UPPER OH VALLEY WHICH
SHOULD TURN SE. VERTICAL SHEAR WILL REMAIN RATHER WEAK...BUT THE
PRESENCE OF A MOIST...MODERATELY UNSTABLE AIR MASS MAY PROMOTE A FEW
SEVERE STORMS CAPABLE OF STRONG WINDS.
...CNTRL MT THIS AFTERNOON/EVENING...
A SERIES OF WEAK PERTURBATIONS WILL ROTATE AROUND THE PARENT UPPER
LOW OVER THE PACIFIC NW...ENHANCING VERTICAL SHEAR AND FORCING FOR
ASCENT ACROSS THE REGION. COOL MIDLEVEL TEMPERATURES COUPLED WITH
SOME DAYTIME HEATING ALONG AN INVERTED TROUGH MAY PROMOTE POCKETS OF
WEAK INSTABILITY AND THE POTENTIAL FOR ISOLATED SEVERE STORMS LATER
...FL THIS AFTERNOON...
SEASONABLY COOL MIDLEVEL TEMPERATURES IN CONCERT WITH A VERY MOIST
AIR MASS WILL YIELD MODERATE AFTERNOON INSTABILITY WITH MLCAPE OF
1500-2500+ J/KG. CONVERGENCE/UPLIFT ALONG DEVELOPING SEA BREEZE
FRONTS WILL BE AUGMENTED BY THE PRESENCE OF A SWWD-MOVING VORTICITY
MAXIMUM TO FOSTER SCATTERED TO NUMEROUS AFTERNOON STORMS CAPABLE OF
ISOLATED DAMAGING WIND GUSTS.
...WRN TX THIS AFTERNOON/EVENING...
STRONG HEATING ALONG THE DRYLINE MAY SUPPORT ISOLATED TSTM
DEVELOPMENT LATER TODAY AMIDST A STEEP-LAPSE-RATE ENVIRONMENT WITH
MLCAPE OF 2000-3000 J/KG. WHILE VERTICAL SHEAR WILL REMAIN
WEAK...THE DEGREE OF INSTABILITY WILL PROMOTE STRONG UP/DOWNDRAFTS
CAPABLE OF DAMAGING WINDS AND LARGE HAIL.