Tornado Outbreak - May 4, 2003

A major tornado outbreak occurred across the Kansas City area during the late afternoon and evening of May 4, 2003. Significant tornado damage has been reported in Kansas City, Kansas, as well in Gladstone and Parkville, Missouri. This was the first major tornado outbreak in the Kansas City area since May 4, 1977, when a large tornado struck the community of Pleasant Hill, MO.


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Media Release for Tornadoes in Miami, Cass, Johnson, and Pettis Counties

Media Release for Tornadoes in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area
Additional Information on Liberty, MO Tornado


Map showing the track of tornado reports received by the Kansas City NWS office

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Media Releases

 

Media Release for Tornadoes in Miami, Cass, Johnson, and Pettis Counties

Media Advisory 03-004

Mike Hudson
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
National Weather Service - Kansas City/Pleasant Hill, MO
National Weather Service Assigns Fujita Damage Ratings to May 4th Tornadoes in Miami, Cass, Johnson and Pettis Counties

A damage assessment team from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, has performed a survey of tornadoes which struck Miami County in Kansas, and Cass, Johnson and Pettis Counties in Missouri on May 4, 2003. Results of the survey indicate four distinct tornado paths in these counties, and one of the tornadoes received a maximum intensity rating of F2 on the Fujita damage scale.

The first evidence of a tornado touchdown was noted near Black River Ranch on west 391st and Somerset, about 3 miles southwest of New Lancaster in rural Miami County. Damage was noted from the ranch approximately one half mile in length from the touchdown, with a width of 200 feet. Damage to ranch buildings was rated F1 on the Fujita damage scale. Intermittent F0 damage was noted further north and east into southwest Cass County before the path of the tornado ended.

A second tornado touched down just southwest of the corner of east 299th Street and Sycamore Grove Road in northeast Cass County. The tornado damage path was approximately 860 feet before it briefly lifted before crossing Missouri Route 7. The tornado touched down again near Z highway and Route 7, and had an intermittent path length of about 15 miles, to near the intersection of Missouri Route 131 and Missouri Route 2 in Johnson County, Missouri. Damage was noted along this path to about east 285th Street and Index Road, with emergency management visual reports for the remainder of the path. Eyewitness reports indicated this tornado had two vortices near Z Highway and Route 7. Damage was noted to residences near this intersection, with F1 damage to a farm house noted southwest of the intersection of east 238th Street and O'Bannon Road. The tornado produced F2 damage to a house about 1/8 mile south of the aforementioned intersection. Damage of F0 to F1 intensity was noted for the remainder of this tornado's path.

The third tornado touchdown was observed about a half mile northwest of the intersection of of SE 401st Road and SE 300th Road, or near the city landfill. Damage of F1 intensity was noted at this location to a private business. The tornado continued northeast to near Whiteman Air Force Base before dissipating. Damage along the path was rated F0 through this area. The tornado was confirmed by weather observers at Whiteman.

The fourth tornado briefly touched down in rural western Pettis County near Buckley Road and Guier Road. A pole barn was destroyed, with a boat thrown about an eighth of a mile and some fence damage. This tornado was also rated F0.

Graphical maps of these tornado paths, annotate with Fujita damage assessments, will be posted within the next day or two on the Pleasant Hill web site found at, http://www.crh.noaa.gov/eax.


Media Release for Tornadoes in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area

MEDIA ADVISORY 03-005 CORRECTED

Contact: Michael J. Hudson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7th, 2003

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ASSIGNS FUJITA DAMAGE RATINGS TO
MAY 4th TORNADOES IN THE KANSAS CITY METROPOLITAN AREA

Editor’s note: corrections were made to the initial northern Leavenworth County tornado data, and also to where the initial F4 damage was reported in Wyandotte County.

A damage assessment team from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, has
performed a survey of tornadoes, which struck the Kansas City metropolitan area on May 4, 2003. Results of the survey indicate five distinct tornado paths in portions of Leavenworth and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas, and across portions of Platte and Clay Counties in Missouri. Two of the tornadoes received a maximum intensity rating of F4 on the Fujita damage scale, two a rating of F2, and the last a rating of F1.

At a news conference held at the Mid-America Regional Council on Wednesday, Lynn Maximuk,
Meteorologist-In-Charge of the National Weather Service Office in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and Dr. Chuck Doswell from the University of Oklahoma reported that a total of five tornadoes struck in or near the Kansas City area with storms on May 4th, 2003. After a preliminary damage assessment, the National Weather Service Quick Response Team rated these tornadoes the strongest the metropolitan area has seen since 1977. Maximuk said that the small number of casualties in the metro area — one death and fewer than 40 injuries — are a credit to the partnerships in the community between the National Weather Service, the media and emergency management professionals. Warnings were issued with an average of fifteen minutes lead time prior to each tornado touchdown, giving area residents ample time to take cover. A total of 25 tornado warnings were issued on Sunday from the Pleasant Hill National Weather Service
office.

The first tornado touchdown was noted in Leavenworth County at 3:45 p.m., by officials of Fort
Leavenworth in open country on base grounds. Damage of F1 intensity was observed from this tornado across the river into Platte County, starting along Missouri Route 92, near its intersection with North Farley Road. This damage extended about one and a half miles to the east, with a width of around 50 yards. Damage was noted to the north of Route 92 to two barns, along with tree and fence damage. This damage appeared to be produced from downbursts, which likely occurred to the north of the tornado track, closer to the updraft and downdraft interface of the storm. Total track length of this tornado was approximately 3 miles. Initial reports of a brief tornado touchdown were received from north of Jarbalo, but no evidence of a tornado touchdown was found in this area.

A series of four tornadoes was evident from both ground and air surveys across the Kansas City
metropolitan area, from the supercell thunderstorm which tracked east-northeast across the western and northern sections of the metropolitan region.

The first of these tornadoes touched down in southern Leavenworth County, at around 3:54 p.m., northwest of Linwood and south of the Kansas Turnpike, near 198th and Wood Ann. Video shows the tornado crossed the Kansas Turnpike east of the Eastern Toll Booth, and then proceeded northeast to where it lifted south of Basehor around 4:12 p.m. Total track length was six miles, with a width approaching 200 yards at times. The tornado was given a maximum Fujita intensity rating of F2. This maximum damage was noted to homes near and just northeast of the intersection of 166th and Kansas Road.

The second tornado touched down just north-northwest of the Kansas Speedway at approximately 4:18 p.m. This tornado initially produced F0 to F1 damage, but it did produce an area of F3 damage to two homes, just south of Parallel Parkway near Interstate 435. The tornado grew in width to near 500 yards in Kansas City, Kansas, where instances of marginal F4 damage were noted around 91st and Leavenworth Road. The tornado continued to produce F2 to F3 damage northeast to near 84th Terrace north of Leavenworth Road. The latter location was where one fatality was observed. The tornado continued northeast through Wyandotte County, where another instance of marginal F4 damage was noted near 79th Street and Cernech. Considerable structural damage was noted in this location, along with four 150 foot-tall metal power poles engineered to withstand maximum winds of over 200 mph. The tornado proceeded to produce F1 to occasional F2 damage up to the Missouri River. Based on air surveys, the tornado passed just north of the power plant in northeast Wyandotte County, skirted along the Missouri River inflicting F0 tree damage on both the Wyandotte and Platte County sides of the river, and eventually crossed east into Platte County near Riverside and Parkville around 4:30 p.m. The tornado continued east, but with a smaller damage path through commercial areas near Highway 9. The tornado crossed Interstate 635 near mile marker 11.8, and it produced F1 damage east of this point until the tornado apparently dissipated around 4:42 p.m. Total track length of this tornado was near 15 miles.

The third tornado touched down in Gladstone, Missouri, apparently from a new circulation which
formed to the northeast of the one which produced the second tornado, around 4:45 p.m., around the area of Shady Lane and Antioch. Tree and roof damage accounted for F0 to F1 damage in this area. The tornado quickly intensified, and damage of marginal F4 intensity was noted approximate one mile northeast of this area, near the intersection of NE 63rd Terrace and North Jackson. Another small area of marginal F4 intensity was noted just northeast of this location, in the Carriage Hills subdivision, just south of Pleasant Valley Road near North Brighton. Areas of F1 to F3 intensity damage were noted around these specific neighborhoods in the Carriage Hills subdivision. The tornado continued northeast, based on air surveys, to just shy of Interstate 435 before dissipating shortly before 5:00 p.m.

The fourth and final tornado in the series that moved through the metropolitan area touched down
in the Liberty area. Air surveys indicated spotty damage from Missouri Route 291, south of Missouri Route 152, northeast to near downtown Liberty. Substantial damage was noted near the square in Liberty, and to William Jewell College. The tornado tracked east along Missouri Route H into rural portions of Clay County east of Liberty, before the tornado apparently dissipated around 5:15 p.m. Maximum intensity damage noted in this area was F2, based on air survey and input from local emergency management.

Despite spotter reports during the event, no evidence of tornado touchdowns were found in Ray
or Jackson Counties in Missouri. Graphical maps of these tornado paths, annotated with Fujita damage scale assessments, will be posted on the Pleasant Hill web site at www.crh.noaa.gov/eax. Additional details on the Fujita damage scale can be found at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/f-scale.html.


 

Additional Information on Liberty, MO Tornado

Media Advisory 03-005A
Contact: Michael J. Hudson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9th, 2003

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE UPDATES LIBERTY TORNADO RATING

A damage assessment team from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, has performed a survey of the tornado, which struck the Liberty area on May 4, 2003. Results of the survey confirm that a tornado of F2 intensity struck the city of Liberty and locations north and east along Route H.

The Liberty tornado was the fourth and final tornado in the series that moved through the Kansas City metropolitan area. Air surveys indicated the tornado touched down just east of Missouri Route 291, south of Missouri Route 152, at around 4:59 p.m. Spotty F0 damage was noted from this touchdown location, northeast to near downtown Liberty. Substantial damage of F2 intensity was noted to the campus of William Jewell College, with F0 to F1 damage on the city square. The tornado's width appeared to be as wide as 500 yards near the downtown square, and then narrowed somewhat to approximately 200 yards wide east of William Jewell. The tornado tracked northeast along Missouri Route H into rural portions of Clay County east of Liberty, before it dissipated around 5:15 p.m

Graphical maps of these tornado paths, annotated with Fujita damage scale assessments, will be posted on the Pleasant Hill web site at www.crh.noaa.gov/eax. Additional details on the Fujita damage scale can be found at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/f-scale.html.


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