Massive tornado strikes northeastern Kansas, leaves trail of damage in its wake

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A tornado onslaught continued to rattle the central United States on Tuesday, making it the 12th consecutive day at least eight tornadoes had been reported across the country.

The most recent outbreak came in Kansas, where a massive tornado was confirmed Tuesday evening near Lawrence. The monstrous twister eventually tracked across the northeastern part of the state, pummeling several communities and prompting tornado emergencies in Kansas City and surrounding areas.

At least a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed in Linwood, Kansas, according to the Kansas City Star. At least 15 injuries were reported in Douglas County, emergency management officials said. Three of those were said to be serious in nature.

Billy Brumley, a resident of Linwood, spoke to the Star in the aftermath of the tornado. He told the newspaper that he was lying under support beams in his basement, praying for his life when the tornado struck.

“I’m fortunate to be alive, we’ve lost a lot here today, but got our life,” Brumley said.

Linwood Mayor Brian Christenson, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that there were no fatalities and everyone was accounted for. About 400 people live in Linwood.

Marissa Whitman, 20, wades in about 3 feet of floodwater from the swelling Mississippi River, while guiding a boat carrying her boyfriend Brendan Cameron and his mother, Tory Cameron, to their home along Pet Street, Sunday, May 5, 2019, in East Foley, Mo. “I just need to see if the water reached inside,” said Tory. The family had to evacuate Saturday when the water rose suddenly. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

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“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Christenson said of the tornado. “It just picks one house randomly and takes it away, and the next house might not even get touched. The way it moves and picks and chooses, it’s incredible.”

Christenson added that he had lived in his current home for 22 years, but Tuesday was the first time he had to take shelter in his basement.

Lawrence Police said large trees, power lines and debris along roads made roads impassable in some areas. Major structural damage was not found within Lawrence city limits. 

The National Weather Service in Kansas City will conduct a storm survey on Wednesday to examine the size of the tornado and determine the amount of time it was on the ground. Some meteorologists estimated the tornado covered a distance of 25 miles.

AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer was tracking the tornado and successfully launched a probe into the tornado to collect data.

Tornado sirens blared across state lines in Kansas City, Missouri, with city officials urging residents to take shelter. While the tornado weakened before reaching the northwestern part of the city, the city still had to deal with a flash flood threat. The city received 1.56 inches of rain Tuesday, making this the wettest month of May in city history. The total of 12.81 inches surpassed the previous record of 12.75 inches in 1995.

The Kansas City International Airport moved customers to a shelter due to a severe weather threat facing Kansas City, Kansas.

A significant amount of debris was tossed onto runways at the airport, and the airfield was forced to close Tuesday evening. It reopened shortly after midnight, local time, on Wednesday, according to the airport’s Twitter account. The airport’s operations staff picked up items such as pots, foam, wall panels, and plant id tags. It’s presumed the tornado debris traveled about 47 miles from Linwood to the airport. 

Dr. Patrick Marsh, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, said Tuesday “sort of” set the record for most consecutive number of days with at least eight tornadoes.

“Tuesday was day 12, beating the old record of 11. I say “sort of” because the official record uses observed, confirmed tornadoes and we are still dealing with preliminary tornado counts for the current stretch,” Marsh told AccuWeather in an email.

This follows the deadly tornado that hit Dayton, Ohio, on Monday night and the EF3 tornado that ripped through El Reno, Oklahoma, on Saturday night. Those were preceded by an EF3 tornado which slammed the Missouri state capital of Jefferson City late Wednesday, May 22.

“The overall weather pattern that has been in place across the U.S. will continue through midweek, which will bring more rounds of severe weather to the Plains,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said. 

“While large hail, damaging winds and flooding will be the main threats from these storms, the danger of tornadoes cannot be overstated,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Edwards.

On Wednesday, the area at highest risk of more damaging storms and tornadoes will extend from northern Texas and eastern Oklahoma into central Missouri.

Damaging storms reached into the Northeast on Tuesday night as well, with reports of a confirmed tornado near Morgantown, Pennsylvania, about one hour northwest of Philadelphia.

One storm-related injury was reported in Claymont, Delaware, where a tree fell onto a tent during a concert.

Severe storms are expected to again track across the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday and could spin up some tornadoes across eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey.

 

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