Massive Tornadoes Hit Pilger NE, 2 Dead, 16 Critical; Still with Ongoing Search and Rescue


Pilger NE was struck by severe thunderstorms Monday afternoon. Tornadoes killed at least two people, leaving 16 critically injured.

Severe weather specialist of The Weather Channel, Dr. Greg Postel said, “This is a significant storm and one that I have never seen the likes of, ever. Really.” It would seem that the string of tornadoes that hit Pilger NE was one-of-a-kind.

The National Weather Service issued a Particularly Dangerous Situation tornado watch Monday afternoon. Nick Wiltgen, a meteorologist from Weather.com stated, “A PDS watch means conditions are favorable for particularly strong and/or long-lived tornadoes, including tomatoes rating EF2 or higher on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The PDS watch includes a large part of central and northeast Nebraska and a small portion of west-central Iowa.”

This kind of severe weather is oftentimes paired with heavy rain. In just a span of three minutes, South Dakota, specifically Sioux Falls, was covered in half an inch of rainfall from 3:05 to 3:08 p.m. local time Monday afternoon. Winds were also recorded at 96 mph.

Shortly after the PDS watch was issued, strong tornadoes hit the eastern part of Nebraska and left at least two people dead in its wake. The spokesperson for Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk stated on an Omaha.com report Monday evening that 16 others were in critical condition.

Mike Unger, Stanton County Sheriff, said that 50-75% of Pilger was destroyed. He said late Monday that this recent string of events caused “total devastation” in a town of about 350. Governor Dave Heineman also declared a state of emergency, deploying the National Guard into the town’s area. Pilger was evacuated for the night and the residents were temporarily moved to a local Red Cross Shelter near Wisner.

Emergency search-and-rescue teams are still conducting searches for people who are trapped under debris, as stated by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, or NEMA. Earl Imler, NEMA operations manager, said, “We are still in a response mode in these communities. We are collecting damage reports from local officials on the ground.”

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