WX Blog: Looking at the Tornados

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I spent my afternoon trying to dig up the archived radar data from the 3 big tornadoes that struck the middle part of the last night and early this morning.

Tornado #1 was the Harveyville, KS (Wabaunsee Co.) tornado. This was rated as an EF2 tornado with winds of 111-135 MPH. It was about 150 yards wide. The tornado path length was 5 miles and was on the ground for about 5 minutes or so. Unfortunately there was NO tornado warning in effect, however the WAS a Severe T/Storm Warning in effect at the time.

They have a quick write-up on their website as well as a couple of radar images from the storm as it was hitting Harveyville.

The next big tornado was another EF2 Tornado. This one hit the Branson area of SW MO. It packed winds near 130 MPH and was on the ground for some 22 miles. More than 30 were injured, mostly minor. The width of the tornado was 400 yds or about 4 football fields wide or more than twice the size of the Harveyville Tornado. Click on the next image to make it more readable.

The left side image is the base reflectivity, the right side image is the velocity data. The GREEN color represents air moving AWAY from the radar and the RED color represents air moving TOWARDS the radar. Where the colors are meet represents rotation. This tornado went through the entertainment district apparently and did lots of hotel window damage. the folks at KY3 in Springfield always do a good job with this stuff. Here is their website

Finally the strongest tornado of the cluster hit Harrisburg, IL at around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. This one was a real bad one, rated as an EF4 tornado with winds of over 166 MPH. This tornado was related to the one that struck Branson. The supercell thunderstorm that created it actually lived for some 800 miles. Fascinating!

The estimated track length was not determined as of this writing however the width of the tornado was 200 yds. About half the size of the Branson tornado. Interesting as well. There were tornado warnings in effect for the Branson area (Taney Co) and the Harrisburg area (Saline Co, IL) during the event.

There were also strong winds, that were not tornadic related. Pittsburg, KS reported winds gusting to 120 MPH or the equivalent of an EF2 tornado. Around the metro the winds were in the 55-70 MPH range. The NWS in Pleasant Hill did a nice writeup on the events from last night including radar replays and maps.

It’s an impressive storm system, that is producing a lot of snow towards the north of the Minneapolis/St Paul area. They’ve had 2-4″ of snow, but there has been 12-18″ of snow north of them stretching from N WI to East Central MN. I had a feeling a couple of days ago that the dreaded 1-15″ snowfall forecast was going to pan out up there and it seems to be. The question obviously was who would get the biggest totals.

Our weather will be marked by a series of ups and downs. Tomorrow we go up, Friday down and then we go back up again heading towards next week with readings in the 70s becoming more likely. We can make a run towards 70° on Thursday and again on Tuesday. Look for another chance of decent rainfall towards the middle of next week.

There is a system for THIS Friday that will send temperatures down during the day and create the potential for some snowflakes farther north of the metro. There is also the potential of some additional storm activity from KC southwards as an impressive surface storm moves along and perhaps a bit SE of the I-35 corridor through W MO early FRI AM.


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