Joe’s Weather Blog: “Remembering” several tornado anniversaries (FRI-5/4)

Good morning…our weather will be calming down for several days it appears and aside from a few showers in the region on Sunday, associated with a cold front coming through the area…the weekend looks great. There are no more severe weather threats through the early part of next week it appears. Temperatures will be near to above average…and we get some nice outdoor time for awhile.


Today: Some clouds/sun mixture but pleasant and less humid with highs in the 70s

Tonight: Clear and comfy with lows in the 50s

Saturday: Sunny and nice with highs near 80°

Sunday: Partly cloudy with a few showers out there but not enough to cancel outdoor plans. Highs in the 70s


Today’s blow is about looking back.

May 4th is a pretty important date in tornadic weather history…not only for the KC region but also for the Plain in general. There have been some pretty important tornadoes that occurred on this date.

Let’s go into the way back machine and talk about what happened on this date in 1977. Residents of Pleasant Hill were hit by an F3 tornado.

‎Tami Burkhart‎ sent me this clipping from the newspaper showing the destruction of the High School there.

Somewhat more recent…is what happened on this date in 2003. This is the 15th anniversary of the devastating tornadoes that hit the NW and N parts of the KC Metro area…as well as some other areas in the region. Last night FOX 4 aired this special story reminiscing about what happened on that date. I will never forget the storm coverage and the 1st time I saw the images of this monster tornado ripping up parts of our city…and the damage afterwards..

I remember that a few years ago I wrote a weather blog with additional details on what happened that day.

On that same date...other areas were hit hard too including Stockton, MO and Girard, KS

Also on this date...back in 2007...the town of Greensburg, KS was hit by the 1st ever EF5 tornado. The town was mostly destroyed (95%) but has since recovered  tremendously. They are truly in tornado alley.

10 years ago...I did an in depth report about what would happen IF the Greensburg tornado happened in the KC metro area...what would happen IF the weather pattern that crushed that area...was just 250 miles ENE of where it set-up that night. What would've happened here. I used nascent GIS data to come up with a bunch of facts and figures and it was an amazing story to do. So let's go back to that story...with the FOX 4 wayback machine.

Interesting to note that over the last year, I've been asked to do various what-if presentations about what happened out there and what could happen here. I've done two or three I think this Spring with another booked in June. It's a way for various folks who have to teach and learn about this stuff to understand the "spider web" of complications that something like this can cause.

Anyway...always important to look back as we look forward. There were 3 tornadoes in the KC Metro area...2 of them lasted was an EF1 in JOCO, KS that damaged some trees and school windows mostly.

It can happen...don't be complacent.



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  • Richard

    Thanks Joe
    They’ve been talking about the ’03 tornado on kmbz radio this week. Kris Ketz of kmbc lost his 1 yr old home in that one.
    Also, on this date May 4, 1977 8PM a large tornado plowed it’s way thru rural areas of Edgerton ,Gardner & western Olathe at about the same time tornadoes / high winds were reported in the Havencroft area then near 135th & 69 Highway.
    So, this date has a history for tornadoes here !

    • Jeff

      I remember it very well in Olathe May 4,1977. My family lived on the South Western outskirts of Olathe. The sirens sounded. I turned on my police band radio. They reported a large tornado was visible 2 miles west of The naval Base. We ran to our front yard & there we could see it perfectly moving North then for the longest time it was coming East, We had an unobstructed view. My dad was using a fork in an Elm tree as a guide. It stayed in the same Easterly position for a long time. I remember my dad saying It’s going to hit us. Then it shifted north where it hit homes just West Ol Olathe Lake & hit the Furniture Warehouse at K-7 & 119th before going back up in the area of 111th & Lone Elm. At the same time people watched it one came down in the Havencroft neighborhood.

      • Richard

        Yep. Fleming Furniture. (Flaming ?)
        We were at Fairview Elementary school, just 2 blks north of Santa Fe/ 1 blk east of K7, we were in the basement, for a cub scout award banquet..that is where they held functions of this sort. But some of us adults went up, outside to see if we could see anything….not too smart ! But we saw white tornadoes to the south, and then the big black wall cloud heading our way. So we skeedaddled back down to shelter. Later to find out just how close it came. Furniture store was just a mile away from Fairview.
        That outbreak is what also hit Pleasant Hill, Excelsior Springs, etc.
        Quite the night !