May 4th Barton and Rice County Tornadoes! (5/5/2007)

By: Robb Lawson and Chance Hayes

A long lived tornado producing supercell tracked out of Southwest Kansas and into Central Kansas during the late night hours of May 4th.

An intense supercell developed southwest of Greensburg Kansas around sunset on May 4th. After causing extreme damage in Greensburg Kansas, the storm tracked slowly northeast and eventually affected Barton, Rice and Ellsworth Counties after midnight. This storm produced tornadoes across Barton and Rice counties which caused major damage to trees and a minor damage to a few homes.

Image 1 is a radar image of the storm as it entered the southern portion of Barton County.

Click here to view storm reports from this event.

Image 2 shows the two tornadoes that moved across the eastern half of Barton county and the far northwestern sections of Rice county.

Radar imagery showed a pair of storm relative velocity couplets (inbound winds right next to outbound winds) as they moved northeast across the county. Image 3 and Image 4 show the grain bins that were blown off of their foundation as the storm approached Claflin. Fortunately, the tornado that was bearing down on Main St. in Claflin lifted just outside of town. The damage to the grain bins and trees across the small community were due straight line winds produced from the rear flank downdraft.

However, homesteads to the southwest of Claflin did not fair quite as well. Image 5 shows a house approximately 1 1/2 miles SW of Claflin that received some minor damage to the roof. The barn that was situated just to the west sustained major damage. Image 6 shows a barn that was completely destroyed by the tornado. This location was about 2.5 miles SW of Claflin.

Finally, Image 7 shows what is left of a church steeple located about 6 miles SSW of Claflin. This was the easternmost tornado and seemed to almost move due east at the beginning as it cycled up, before moving on to the northeast into Rice county.

Both tornadoes were given the rating of EF1 on the new Enhanced Fujita Scale.

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