The National Weather service says straight line winds gusting up to 115 miles per hour are to blame for the devastation in the Omaha Metro Area. Kathy Zapotocnee with the National Weather Service in Valley says there were areas that received 110 to 115 mile per hour winds which is similar to an EF-2 tornado. Friday’s storm had a three to five mile swath that contained winds, on average, of 70 miles per hour. Zapotocnee says that even with a large tornado, the damage would have been significantly narrower.
At the height of the storm, 126-thousand Omaha Public Power district customers were without service. The utility says with this massive damage, it is going to take a while before everyone’s power is restored. Some will likely be without service until Saturday. A number of crews from cooperating utilities are in the Omaha-Metro area helping local crews restore service as quickly as possible. A number of street lights are affected but there have been only a handful of accidents at those intersections.
Omaha city crews are making every effort to clear debris from the streets. A number of drop-off sites for tree limbs and other debris are opening Omaha, La Vista, Ralston and Bellevue.
The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross have set up shelters for those who are without service. This is especially important to those who are medical devices that require electricity. Those shelters will remain open for an indefinite period of time.