Wednesday Marks 20th Anniversary of Hallam Tornado

HALLAM–(KFOR May 22)–It was 20 years ago Wednesday when a massive, F4 tornado (207 to 260 mph) that made a 52-mile trek across southeast Nebraska leveled Hallam and southern areas of Lancaster County.

The F4 rating was the measurement before the Fujita Scale was enhanced in 2007.

The May 22, 2004 tornado was the widest ever recorded on Earth, at 2.5-miles wide, before a tornado in 2013 near Oklahoma City was measured at 2.6-miles wide. The tornado also ripped apart the Norris School District campus.

Duane Aksamit is Hallam’s assistant fire chief and told KFOR News the tornado missed his home outside of town by a mile and a half. Aside of the immediate aftermath, one thing Aksamit remembers was the outpouring of help afterward.

“The people that came into help (afterward) was amazing,” Aksamit said.  “People were there for weeks and weeks, just cleaning up and helping out.”

The tornado first touched down north of Daykin and stayed on the ground for 52 miles.  The tornado path would end just west of Palmyra. Damage estimates along the storms past totaled $160-million.

A special open house to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Hallam Tornado will be held Wednesday night from 6pm to 8pm at the Hallam Fire Station.