NWS Hastings Nebraska Confirms rare Christmas Tornadoes in Kansas and Nebraska

Rare Christmas Day Tornadoes in Kansas and Nebraska 

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Hastings has confirmed at least two tornadoes occurred on Christmas Day in north central Kansas and south central Nebraska. The tornadoes occurred along a line of strong thunderstorms which moved across southern Nebraska and Kansas on Christmas Day. 

Complete storm survey information is available on the NWS Hastings website at the following link: http://www.weather.gov/gid/Christmas2016Tornadoes. Here is a summary of the preliminary storm survey report: 

Kansas Tornado: 

Date: 12/25/16
Time: 11:45 am to 11:48 AM
EF-Scale Rating: EF-0
Peak wind: 85 mph (estimated)
Location: Start point: 4.4 miles northwest of Alton (Osborne Co.)
End Point   5.0 miles northwest of Alton (Osborne Co.)
Damage Path: 1.9 miles long
Width: 50 yards at it widest point

Damage of note: Trees in shelter belts, some fencing, bulk bin feeder and a small shed were all damaged. Some soffit and shingle damage occurred to a home near/on the tornado path. 

A local resident was watching the line of thunderstorms approach and noted the tornado as it advanced over a hill from the south-southwest. At that point, he went inside his home for safety.

Nebraska Tornado: 

Date: 12/25/16
Time: 11:50 am to 11:53 AM
EF-Scale Rating: EF-1
Peak wind: 100 mph (estimated)
Location: Start point: 2.8 miles south of Funk (Phelps Co.)
End point:  0.6 miles east southeast of Funk (Phelps Co.)
Damage Path: 2.8 miles long
Width: 200 yards at it widest point

Damage of note: At least six power poles, four center pivot systems and other minor damage. 

This tornado slid across rural areas southeast of Funk. This damage was confirmed by a local resident to have occurred with the line of late-morning thunderstorms and prior to the strong winds which occurred later in the day.

Thunderstorm wind damage was sporadic as the line of thunderstorms passed through the area. Buffalo County, in south central Nebraska, received the most extensive damage. In Kansas, there were other tornadoes reported on Christmas Day in the southwest part of the state. 

Historical Context: 


The Nebraska tornado near Funk is the “latest calendar year” tornado since 1950 and first December tornado since December 13, 1975. In 1975, an 8 mile long tornado occurred between Chester and Gilead in Thayer County and a brief tornado occurred near Steinauer in Pawnee County. 


Prior to 2016, it appears at least eight (8) tornadoes occurred in Kansas in December since 1950. The most recent December tornado was an EF-0 rated tornado in Harper County on 12/14/2014. Prior to that, two (2) tornadoes occurred in Cherokee County on 12/18/2002. The latest “calendar year” tornado was on 12/26/1959, when an F2 rated tornado occurred west of Talmage in Dickinson County.  

The staff of NWS Hastings would like to thank everyone who helped with this damage survey, including local residents and Emergency Management. We express our appreciation for all the social media related content shared with NWS Hastings regarding both the severe weather on Christmas Day and the high wind event in the evening. 

EF-Scale Categories:   

EF0 WEAK 65 TO 85 MPH  
EF1 WEAK 86 TO 110 MPH  
EF2 STRONG 111 TO 135 MPH  
EF3 STRONG 136 TO 165 MPH   
EF4 VIOLENT 166 TO 200 MPH  

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About the National Weather Service: 

The National Weather Service’s Hastings Forecast Office located in Hastings, NE., is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for people in 24 south central Nebraska counties and 6 north central Kansas counties. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Working with partners, the National Weather Service is building a Weather-Ready Nation to support community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather.

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