September 7th, 2001 Severe Weather Event (9/9/2001)

By: Jim Caruso, Paul Howerton

Numerous severe weather events occurred across Central and Southeast Kansas including a damaging tornado.

A significant upper level disturbance moved out of Colorado, across Kansas late Friday. This supported a cold front which by 2 pm cdt, had reached a line from just west of Salina to Lyons, to Medicine Lodge.

Thunderstorms began developing along and just east of the cold front around 3 pm cdt, and within one hour had turned severe. The initial severe thunderstorm developed over southwest Wichita and moved north. It pummeled west Wichita, Maize and Park City with hail ranging from the size of golf balls to tennis balls. From this point onward, numerous severe thunderstorms erupted over central and south central Kansas through 7 pm cdt, producing predominately large hail and 60 mph winds. As if one hailstorm in west Wichita wasn't bad enough, a second isolated severe thunderstorm formed near Conway Springs in Sumner County and moved northeast across nearly the same part of west Wichita between 6 pm and 6:15 pm. The storm produced 60 mph winds and golf ball size hail in Conway Springs, and up to 2 inch diameter hail in west Wichita.

The most significant storm, developed in southwest Saline County around 430 pm. The severe storm intensified, producing a tornado (image 8) which initially touched down to the southwest of Assaria near Interstate 135. The tornado was on the ground for approximately four miles as it passed along the south edge of Assaria (see image 1). This resulted in damage to a barn, garage, water pump house, and an earth home. The National Weather Service in Wichita rated this tornado an F1 (73 to 112 mph) on the Fujita Scale. No injuries or fatalities were reported with this tornado.

Other notable severe weather reports in central Kansas included hail ranging from golf ball to baseball size throughout Russell, Lincoln and Barton Counties between 415 pm and 6 pm.

An area of storms over south central Kansas organized into a squall line between 530 pm and 6 pm, and then moved rapidly east. This line of storms raked the Flint Hills and southeast Kansas with 60 to 80 mph winds and hail up to the size of quarters. The storms exited the region around 9 pm.

This was a rather large severe weather event. The NWS Wichita County Warning Area (servicing 26 counties in central and southeast Kansas) was assaulted with at least 90 separate reports of severe weather in roughly a five hour period (image 7). The National Weather Service in Wichita issued a total of 40 warnings. One hundred fifteen severe weather statements followed up those warnings with additional information on the severe thunderstorms.

The following are post storm images of the damage from the tornado that affected the south side of Assaria:

image 2, image 3, image 4, image 5, image 6

(All damage survey photos were taken by Bruce Wightman of the National Weather Service in Wichita.)

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