Well, ya have all probably heard about all the tornadoes in the Midwest Saturday. Five people dead, at least twenty nine injured (from what I read - in a trailer park) in Woodward, OK - a city northwest of Oklahoma City, OK. Kansas - no dead reported, one still missing. At least one hundred tornadoes were reported as of this morning across the area including Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.
There was a tornado reported north of Dodge City, KS Saturday afternoon. It tracked on the ground for over a half hour. That was the closest twister to the Poor Farm. I'm about twenty five miles northeast of downtown Dodge, and I'm not sure where the track was. Not too much in the way of populations between Dodge City and Jetmore - the nearest town to the north.
Wichita was hit. McConnell AFB, Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems all reported damage, and there a damage track leading from the southwest side, across I35 south, then to the east side of the Air Capital. Governor Sam Browback has declared Sedgwick County (Wichita) a disaster area.
video credit KWCH.com
The video is interesting because it's a compilation of several different tornadoes. The last one is interesting because it looks like the funnel does not reach the ground, then as the newly formed tornado ages a bit, the visible moisture cloud is gradually sucked down to the earth, and if the ground is dusty, the debris is sucked up into the vortex, making it more visible. The point is - just because you can see a tornado, and it looks like it isn't touching the ground, chances are good that it really is and you just cannot see it. I've seen several of these ropy twisters, and when close enough, one can see the clear vortex. Sometimes, the bottom will be loaded up with dirt and debris, the middle clear, and the top part dark and cloudy.
Sometimes, when one of these forms at night and it is raining exceptionally hard, you really can't see these things at all. The weather prognosticators speak of this often when it happens just because the situation is so dangerous for those in the path, those spotting, and because if it's probably there, but they're not sure exactly where - well, you get the idea. I've heard the weather guys call it "rain wrapped" and that is as good a description as any. Luckily, I've never seen or encountered one like that. I've just seen the flashes of lightning outlining a funnel at night, or seen 'em in broad daylight.
This outbreak was for sure the worst of the year so far, but it wasn't the first tornadoes of the year, and it surely won't be the last. It's just a crap shoot out here on the prairie until late fall. Been rolling lucky sevens so far!
And prayers to those whose lives were affected by this latest rounds. I've helped with a clean up or three, and while most survivors feel very fortunate that they are still alive, it is still stunning to deal with the destruction of their property. Not to mention those families in Woodward who lost family, or have people in the hospital.