Thursday, August 8, 2019

Updated map and images of May 28, 2019 EF4 tornado in northeast Kansas

It's been over 2 months since the long-track EF4 tornado in northeast Kansas (KS) on May 28 that just missed the main population of towns like Lawrence, Linwood, and Bonner Springs KS.

Some interesting video has surfaced since May 28.  I thought it would be useful to correlate some images of the tornado with a newer map I put together (above) that shows the relative width of the tornado path (> 1 mile near Eudora & Linwood) at various points from my own survey.  The smaller tornado that occurred earlier and merged with the larger one as it formed southwest of Lawrence is also shown.

The map above shows image locations (in red) by image number as discussed below, along with direction of view.

Image 1 below (from Quincy Vagell's video) shows the wet portion of the storm in southwest  Douglas County looking west around 5:57 pm CDT where a small EF1/EF2 tornado was embedded that struck Silver Lining Tours (SLT).   The new mesocyclone from which the large EF3-EF4 tornado developed about 10 minutes later is also visible north of the rain-wrapped area concealing the smaller tornado:

Image 2 below (from video by Robert Reynolds) shows this smaller EF1/EF2 tornado emerging out of the rain near Lone Star Lake around 6:05 pm CDT, looking east about 1/2 mile away.  This is the same tornado that struck SLT 2 to 3 minutes earlier:

Image 3 below (from video by Dalton Coody) shows the large tornado shortly after forming southeast of the town of Lone Star (in Coody's video, it is only visible briefly before rain wraps around it).  This was at roughly 6:10 or 6:11 pm CDT, after the merger of the smaller tornado with this larger one as it was developing:

Image 4 below (from video by Jack Miller) shows the HP supercell at about 6:12 pm CDT looking southwest from the south side of Lawrence.  The tornado, visible in the Coody video, is hidden by rain wrapping in from the southeast (a wet rear-flank downdraft or RFD):
Image 5 below (from video by Matt Grantham) jumps ahead to near Linwood KS around 6:35-6:40 pm CDT, looking west along Highway 32 west of Linwood.  The tornado was about a mile wide (!) at this point, but somewhat visible even though still wrapped up in rain:
Image 6 (from video by Cybil Walters) is from a housing development north or northeast of Linwood, and shows suction vortices (smaller intense "swirls" within a larger tornado) clearly visible.  This was around the time of EF4 damage near Linwood, and suggests why some houses north of Linwood were totally demolished, while others were still standing with mainly roof and outer wall damage:

Image 7 (from video by Matt Grantham again), looking southwest from northeast of Linwood around 6:40-6:45 pm CDT, also shows the tornado at about the time of EF4 intensity, although it is still somewhat difficult to see from some rain-wrapping:
The more I look at the path of this large tornado, the more I'm struck by how very fortunate it was that it did not directly hit any population centers, including the Kansas City metro area!

The images in this post also show how difficult it was to see this tornado (and the smaller one before it), as they were both associated with a large high-precipitation (HP) supercell.

Spotters and chasers BEWARE such storms, especially when they are moving faster than 30 mph... give them a very wide berth!

Thanks to Robert Reynolds, Quincy Vagell, Dalton Coody, Jack Miller, Matt Grantham, and Cybil Walters for their video images, and thanks to Rick Schmidt and Eric Lawson for pointing me to additional documentation and information.

- Jon Davies  8-8-19

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