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Tornado hits Omaha airport, destroys hangars and planes

Nebraska was hit with multiple tornadoes on Friday, destroying private planes and hangars at the Eppley Airfield Airport (OMA) in Omaha. The airport has since reopened and flights are arriving and departing, but there was substantial damage to many buildings, hangars and planes in the general aviation area. The National Weather Service reported that on Friday a tornado outbreak occurred from central Nebraska into central Iowa, largely centering around Omaha. According to AP News, dozens of tornadoes were reported in the Midwest, leading to a building collapse and damaging about 150 homes in Omaha alone. Local news KLKN said the local Weather Service confirmed it was an EF-3 tornado, with winds ranging from 135 to 165 mph. The tornado that touched down near Eppley Airfield was categorized as an EF-2 tornado, with winds ranging from 110 to 135 mph. Eppley Airfield confirmed that the tornado touched down at about 5:08 p.m. while passengers within the terminal were placed in storm shelters. The airport reopened to aircraft operations at 5:59 p.m. Eppley Field said there were no injuries reported and by Saturday morning, the airport was operational. The airport said the damage included the destruction of four hangar buildings where 32 privately owned GA aircraft were stored. Eppley went on to say that other buildings operated by tenants of the airport had also sustained damage. The tornado did not hit the passenger terminal area or Build OMA construction projects and operations were able to commence on Saturday. Access to the GA area is restricted as the recovery and cleanup process continues. Saturday evening, the airport shared that the cleanup and recovery process progressing but the GA portion of the airport remained restricted to employees and customers of businesses on the east side of the airport. Photos shown on Eppley's social media pages reveal the bleak aftermath of Mother Nature. Scenes of mangled planes, shredded insulation and metal siding litter the airfield. The airport said it is working with the affected hangar tenants on aircraft recovery and the focus is on maintaining safe and secure airport operations.RELATED STORIES:Wright-Patterson Air Force Base hit with tornadoStrong wind flips Cessna 172 in WyomingArizona airport hit by monsoon - 20 planes, multiple hangars damaged'Gustnado' wipes out flight school fleetExtreme weather can be unpredictable, hitting without warning and without time to plan. In February, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (FFO) was hit by an early morning tornado, damaging a hangar and several buildings. The week, strong winds flipped a Cessna 172N Skyhawk at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport (CPR) in Wyoming. In September 2023, the Falcon Field Airport (FFZ) in Mesa, Arizona faced substantial damage after a strong monsoon swept through the region, flipping over planes and ripping off hangar doors. In April 2023, a gustnado blew through the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (MKC) and nearly wiped out an entire flight school fleet. Eppley remains operational while the efforts to clean the GA area continue. A Monday morning update said OMA is open and ready for visitors to the annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting, whether arriving on a scheduled airline flight or private aircraft.
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