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Tornado Path  -  Cherokee County KS to Carl Junction, Mo.


Sunday May 4th, 2003


F-Scale:  F3 From South of Quaker, KS to near Alba, MO         


Length:  ~33 miles      Width:  1/4 to 1/2 mile     Time:  ~530 - 624 p.m.

Detailed Tornado Track map


 Radar Images

 Carl Junction

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Event Summary

Here is an update for the tornado that moved across southern Cherokee County, Kansas and into the Carl Junction area in Jasper County of southwest Missouri.  This tornado track extended west into Labette County north of Chetopa but that portion of the survey was completed by the Wichita, Kansas, National Weather Service Office.

After initially touching down southwest of Bartlett in Labette County, the Cherokee - Jasper tornado crossed the Labette/Cherokee county border southwest of Faulkner. For the next 54 minutes, tornadoes from this storm intermittently touched down, with the greatest damage noted south of Columbus, north of Galena, and in the Smithville and Carl Junction areas.  All together, the storm resulted in the deaths of three people in Cherokee County, and two people in Jasper County.

In Cherokee County, the tornado moved east northeast and passed north of Melrose where it was rated as an F-0 (40 - 72 MPH) to just west of Highway 69/7 and rated as an F-2 (113 - 157 MPH) until it reached just northeast of Neutral and rated an F-1 (73 - 112 MPH). It was again rated as an F-2 just south of Quaker and rated an F-3 (158 - 206 MPH) just southwest of Badger.  After passing south of Badger it was rated an F-2 until it reached just west of Smithfield where it was rated as an F-3 through the community of Smithville and just north of Stringtown until it reached the west portion of Carl Junction.  Through most of Carl Junction it was rated a high F-2.  After exiting Carl Junction to the east and across Highway 171 it was rated an F-2 skipping until it reached just northwest of Oronogo and lifted near the intersection of Highways 96 and 43.

While moving across this deadly and destructive path, the tornado severely damaged numerous modular and wood framed homes, barns and outbuildings.  Hundreds of trees were uprooted or snapped off as were power poles.  The tornado width ranged from 200 to 500 yards.  Debris from many of the homes and outbuildings was located over one half mile to a mile away.

Perhaps the most significant damage occurred to an A frame house that was positioned perpendicular to the tornado, and to another wood frame home where the entire contents of the home were thrown well away from the foundation.  Two deaths occurred at this second residence.  Probably the most overall concentrated damage was to the community of Smithville and Carl Junction.

Here the tornado damaged several homes and businesses. Damage to brick buildings downtown and a brick home just east of Highway 171 resulted in an F-2 damage rating. Intermittent tree damage was then noted between Carl Junction and the intersection of Highways 96 and 43, or just northwest of Oronogo.

One notable miracle from this event was a farm home with a mother and three children that was spared the full brunt of the tornado. The home was located about seven miles northeast of Melrose were the tornado was rated an F-2. The tornado was on a direct path of the home but only damaged the roof and windows. However, several large trees right next the house and in back were uprooted or snapped off indicating the power of the tornado.

A second tornado was reported by residents between Carl Junction and the Joplin Airport. No damage was observed with this storm and it was rated as an F-0.  Yet a third funnel cloud was reported but did not touch down.  At one time, all three rotating vortices were observed.

For images of the tornado and the damage it produced, click here

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