Hastings, NE F5 Tornado of May 5, 1964

Tomorrow, May 5th, marks the 55th Anniversary of the last recorded F5/EF5 tornado in the state of Nebraska (though a few…

Posted by US National Weather Service Hastings Nebraska on Saturday, May 4, 2019

On May 5, 1964, a historic F5 tornado impacted Adams to Butler counties in central and eastern Nebraska respectively. According to the National Weather Service Hastings, Nebraska (2019), the F5 tornado that traveled 70 miles through these counties was the last (as of August 19, 2019) F5-intensity tornado recorded in the state of Nebraska.

Figure 1. Tornado damage from F5 tornado of May 5, 1964 in Nebraska (NWS Hastings, NE, 2019).

The Forecast

Figure 2. 500mb geopotential heights at 7:00 pm CDT on May 4, 1964 depicting mean sea-level pressure (MSLP) contours and wind barbs (NWS Hastings, NE, 2019).

The upper-levels on May 5, 1964 was characterized by a trough ejecting into the North American continent, bringing southerly surface winds into Nebraska. Figure 2 depicts a series of upper-level low pressures, one in the Northern Plains and the other in California.

Figure 3. Surface analysis at 1:00 pm CDT on May 4, 1964 depicting mean sea-level pressure (MSLP) contours, pressure centers and fronts (NWS Hastings, NE, 2019).

Figure 3 depicts the surface analysis at 1:00 pm. A surface low pressure is seen developing off the Rockies in the Wyoming-Colorado-Nebraska panhandle area, with a 988mb pressure center. Lee-cyclogenesis such as this is quite common in the Central Plains of the United States during the spring and is usually associated with some type of severe weather. A stationary front is observed from southern South Dakota into Texas and a warm front from South Dakota into the Great Lakes.


Here is a collection of newspaper clippings from the aftermath of the F5 tornado. These were taken from the National Weather Service Hastings, NE (2019):

From the Omaha World Herald (1964):

Aurora News-Register (1964):

Aerial tornado track taken near Polk/Butler County line by NWS Hastings, NE (2019):


According to NOAA’s Storm Events Database (2019), an F5 tornado touched touched down in Adams County at 6:30 pm CST in Nebraska on May 5, 1964. The tornado moved northeast and impacted Adams, Clay, York and Polk counties covering a 79.7 miles long path of destruction. The tornado had a maximum width of 880 yards (half mile wide) and lasted over one hour. The tornado killed four people, injured 50 and caused $5.05 million dollars in property damage.

Figure 4. Recap of F5 tornado on May 5, 1964 (NWS Hastings, NE, 2019).


NWS Hastings, Nebraska. (2019). May 5, 1964: F5 Tornado Tracks From Adams To Butler County. Retrieved from: https://www.weather.gov/gid/May51964F5Tor

NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. (2019). Storm Events Database. Retrieved from: Nhttps://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/stormevents/listevents.jsp?tornfilter=5&sort=DT&statefips=31%2CNEBRASKA&eventType=(C)+Tornado&beginDate_yyyy=1964&beginDate_mm=05&beginDate_dd=05&endDate_yyyy=1964&endDate_mm=05&endDate_dd=05