Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spinning In Circles -- Kansas Tornado Hangs Out, Doesn't Move

Caught on tape on Tuesday was a tornado that was in no hurry to move -- literally spinning in place for pver an hour over North Central Kansas as a thunderstorm that spawned the twister effectively sat in the same geographic area for nearly two hours.  Storm chasers captured footage of the tornado and watched as it spun, spun, and spun some more over the same general area.  45 minutes of footage was condensed down to two minutes of film.

Luckily, very little damage occurred from the tornado as it dropped over rural turf and did not impact any substantial population areas.

This tornado was spawned from a supercell thunderstorm that developed and sat over Ottawa County, Kansas, which is located about two hours west of Kansas City and about 90 minutes north of Wichita.  The thunderstorm, which developed around 4:30 in the afternoon, became severe around 5:15 PM, and dropped the tornado a few minutes later.  The storm was warned by the National Weather Service from 5:20 PM until 7:30 PM.  Radar shots seen below show the thunderstorm sitting in the same general area for two hours.  Minneapolis, Kansas, located not far from Bennington, picked up nearly four inches of rain from this thunderstorm.

It's rare for thunderstorms to produce tornadoes that sit stationary for as long as this one particularly did.  While thunderstorms can move very little if there is a lack of steering mechanism aloft or in the mid levels, the ingredients needed for a tornado typically involve wind shear and some differing amounts of wind aloft and at the surface...and those often result in storms being nudged in a direction.  In this case, the supercell didn't and the result was a relatively rare -- and pretty cool (except for the farms impacted) visual.

As for the farms, over 100 head of cattle were killed in the twister, which rated an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale.