Longest Tornado Drought In Over a Decade Comes to an End (3/29/2004)

By: Robb Lawson/Andy Kleinsasser

Prior to March 27th the state of Kansas had not experienced a tornado for 235 days. This was the longest tornado free period in over a decade.

Persistent south winds brought rich gulf moisture into the plains several days before Saturday March 27th. But with no front or upper level wave to develop thunderstorms, this moisture just went into keeping low clouds around the area.

Finally on Saturday morning a storm system kicked out of the Rockies allowing a dryline to surge into Kansas and Oklahoma. With the afternoon heating, severe storms rapidly developed along this dryline by around 1 pm.

Image 1 shows where the storms developed in relation to the dryline(dashed yellow line). Image 2 is also at 1 pm and shows the watches that were in effect. With plenty of low level wind shear, these storms quickly became tornadic producing a 3/4 mile wide strong tornado in Edwards County. This same storm weakened as it approached the Wichita National Weather Service county warning area. But shortly after 3 pm it strengthened again and produced a brief tornado 1 mile southeast of Hoisington.

These storms quickly formed into a solid line of thunderstorms and tracked across the eastern half of the state. Image 3 shows this line of thunderstorms at around 6 pm and Image 4 shows all of the severe weather reports across the country on Saturday March 27th.

The tornadoes that occurred on March 27th ends a streak of 235 consecutive tornado free days across the state of Kansas. This is the longest tornado free period in over a decade. Below are a listing of tornado free periods since 1990:

8/5/03 to 3/27/04 = 235 days
9/7/01 to 4/11/02 = 216 days
9/18/96 to 4/19/97 = 213 days
8/16/91 to 3/5/92 = 202 days
9/21/93 to 4/9/94 = 200 days
9/7/94 to 3/25/95 = 199 days
8/14/90 to 3/01/91 = 199 days
9/11/95 to 3/24/96 = 195 days
10/8/97 to 4/6/98 = 180 days
10/7/92 to 3/28/93 = 172 days
9/26/99 to 3/7/00 = 163 days
10/31/00 to 4/6/01 = 157 days
11/9/98 to 4/3/99 = 145 days
9/4/02 to 12/18/02 = 105 days

This data was gathered through NCDC: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov

For more information regarding the tornadoes that occured over western Kansas(including the Edwards county tornado) please visit the National Weather Service in Dodge City's website http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ddc

This story was brought to you by the National Weather Service - Wichita, Kansas.

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