VALLEY, NE – National Weather Service meteorologists were monitoring the storm system that produced an EF4 tornado that hit Wayne, NE long before the public worried about it.
Weather service meteorologist Brian Smith said Monday that he rallied emergency workers and other personnel in the potential path well before Friday’s touchdown. Smith is a leading authority in the Fujita scale, which measures tornado damage to determine a storm’s power. He was on the ground shortly after the twister hit the city of Wayne Friday.
“You say it's an EF4 tornado. But only one small part of the tornado is really EF4. The rest of it may be EF3, EF2, or EF1,” Smith said.
October tornados are uncommon, according to Smith, but the weather service had been urging people to anticipate the storm knowing the system could be dangerous.
“They started rotating and became what we call super cells, which is a rotating thunderstorm and quickly produced tornados,” said Smith.
“This is home. We have family and loved ones and friends here. A lot of us grew up here. I grew up on a farm here as a young man,” said NWS Meteorologist in Charge Jim Meyer.
The weather service has a staff of more than 20 monitoring the sky 24 hours a day. Smith said they were well-staffed ahead of Friday’s storm. The National Weather Service is a government agency operating through the shut down.
“It' emergency services,” said Meyer. “So just like being a fireman or in medical services or whatever, we take the job very seriously,and if we don't do our job we'd be afraid somebody might get hurt.”
Fifteen people were hurt in Wayne, NE, no one died. The clean-up continued their Monday.
“It was bad, and it happened. But you just deal with it,” said Wayne volunteer Teresa Stabler.