Midwest hit by 35 tornadoes in 24 hours - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Midwest hit by 35 tornadoes in 24 hours

Destruction was left behind in Harrisburg, IL, after an EF4 tornado swept through the town, killing six. (Source: KTVI/KPLR/CNN) Destruction was left behind in Harrisburg, IL, after an EF4 tornado swept through the town, killing six. (Source: KTVI/KPLR/CNN)

(RNN) - As many as 35 tornadoes may have touched down across the Midwest in the 24 hours after a twister was first seen in Nebraska Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Preliminary reports from the NWS found a whopping 13 tornadoes may have struck Missouri. Kentucky may have seen nine tornadoes, while Kansas got five twisters. Nebraska and southern Illinois were both hit by three tornadoes. Southern Indiana was hit by one.

Last year, 29 twisters hit parts of the Midwest and the South on Feb. 28, 2011. Hardest hit was Bellview, KY, which was struck by an EF3 ranked tornado, injuring one.

This time around, southern Illinois received the brunt of the damage. A tornado that touched down in the early morning hours near Harrisburg killed six and was preliminarily ranked by the NWS as an EF4.

Tornadoes touch down in Nebraska, move across Midwest

According to the NWS preliminary report, the first tornado struck northeast of North Platte, NE at 5:13 p.m. ET Tuesday. The twister was tracked for six minutes.

At the same time, an off-duty NWS employee reported another tornado 30 miles away near Gandy.

The twisters are the first in history to hit the Cornhusker State before March.

An hour after the first Nebraska tornadoes hit, Kansas was struck by dual tornadoes in Randall and Jamestown, roughly half an hour from the Nebraska-Kansas border. The storm continued east, hitting southern parts of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana as well as eastern Kentucky.

The EF Scale

Both early Kansas twisters were preliminary given the rank of zero on the Enhanced Fujita, or EF, Scale. The scale is used by meteorologists to estimate wind speeds based on reports of damage on the ground. The scale ranges from 1 to 5, with a ranking of EF1 indicating light damage to trees, chimneys and signs, and EF5 indicating incredible damage to homes and other sturdy structures.

Tornadoes ranked as EF4s, like the one that hit Harrisburg, IL, have estimated wind speeds of 166 to 200 miles per hour. The Harrisburg tornado's wind speeds are estimated at about 180  miles per hour.

On April 27, 2011, the South was wracked by nine EF5 tornadoes, which hit Alabama and Mississippi. The outbreak was ranked the second-deadliest in U.S. history as smaller tornadoes in the South and parts of the East and Midwest brought the death toll to more than 300.

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EF Scale (sidebar)


Information on what categories mean on the EF Scale. More>>

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View Tornado map in a larger map
The more than 20 tornadoes that touched down in the Midwest between Feb. 28 and 29 hit six different states. All times are eastern. Information from the National Weather Service.
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