Nebraskans may have been caught off guard by the early arrival of tornado season this year, but for those who know their history, or survived it, it had an ominous familiarity to it.


Nebraskans may have been caught off guard by the early arrival of tornado season this year, but for those who know their history, or survived it, it had an ominous familiarity to it.

The National Weather Service confirmed seven tornadoes swept through eastern Nebraska on March 23. The storms caused damage and minor injuries.

Tornadoes came on that day in 1913, but the outcome was much different. They made for the most deadly tornadoes in Nebraska’s history.

It was Easter Sunday when the storms tore through Burt, Saunders and Otoe counties killing nearly three-dozen people in their path.

Twelve of those deaths occurred in the Otoe County village of Berlin, which was swept off the map. The storm left the community of 300 that once boasted two churches, a school, train depot, hotel and several stores with just two houses, partly in ruins.

Seven more were killed in Sarpy County before the storm hit Omaha. There, 103 people died, 800 homes were destroyed and another 2,000 homes were damaged. Damage was estimated at $8.7 million.

Since 1953 — largely because of improved radar and advanced warnings — no tornado has killed more than 10 people.

Tornadoes have been reported in Nebraska every month except February. Just 33 have touched down in March between 1950 and 2006, according to the High Plains Regional Climate Center. That’s compared to the peak month of June, which saw 890 during the same period.