Sunday storm brought EF-2 tornado, 120-mph winds to Lincoln, officials confirm

Sunday storm brought EF-2 tornado, 120-mph winds to Lincoln, officials confirm
An apparent tornado touches down Sunday west of the Lincoln Airport, where a plane and property were damaged. JEFF BULIN

The National Weather Service has concluded that a single brief but strong tornado struck Lincoln’s west side Sunday.

The tornado has been classified as an EF-2, and its peak winds reached an estimated 120 mph, the weather service office in Valley said Monday evening.

The tornado’s path was a half-mile long and 200 yards wide. It was on the ground for about 2 minutes.

No injuries were reported. The supercell storm that produced the tornado also generated widespread damage from powerful straight-line winds.

The tornado was reported at 5:38 p.m. Sunday near the popular Pioneers Park. It did minor damage to a state prison facility and destroyed an ice cream store. It also damaged homes, destroyed sheds and snapped trees along its narrow path, according to the weather service.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale classifies tornadoes based on their intensity on a 0 to 5 scale, with zero the weakest and 5 the strongest. An EF-2 is considered a “strong” tornado, with winds between 111 and 135 mph.

A team of meteorologists examined the damage in Lincoln on Monday to determine whether a tornado occurred and how strong it was. The team was not able to make it to nearby Malcolm on Monday to investigate the report of a tornado spotted there Sunday.

Among the places in Lincoln affected by Sunday’s storm was the Community Corrections Center-Lincoln, said Laura Strimple, chief of staff for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Strimple said inmates were directed to take shelter in the housing unit hallways until the storm passed.

About 30 members of the public who were caught outside, in and around Pioneers Park, were allowed into the corrections center as well, she said. They were placed in a separate hallway from the inmates. Damage at the center included part of the tin roof of a storage building peeling off.

The nearby Dairy Sweet was destroyed, and damage was reported at the Lincoln Airport and a Harley-Davidson store.

Rainy weather is forecast through Wednesday night in the metro area. There’s also a chance of thunderstorms embedded within the showers, said Bryon Miller, a weather service meteorologist.

The weather service forecast calls for widespread rain totals of 1 to 2 inches Tuesday night through Wednesday night. Some areas could receive as much as 3 inches.

Cool weather over the next few days should keep most of the severe weather to the south — with the highest risk for severe weather in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri.

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