Tornado Path - Girard Ks. to Liberal Mo.
Sunday May 4th, 2003
F-Scale: F4 From Just Southwest of Ringo, Through Franklin, to North of Liberal, MO
Path Length: ~35 miles Width: 1/4 to 1/2 mile Time: ~432 - 532 p.m.
Here’s the final report for the Crawford County Kansas to Barton County Missouri tornado track. First, a high end F-4 (207 - 260 MPH) struck the communities of Ringo and Franklin in eastern Crawford County, and continued to just northwest of Liberal, MO. As fate would have it, the tornado track went between several populated areas sparing them from the destructive damage that befell Ringo and Franklin.
The tornado track extended west across Neosho County Kansas but we picked up the track (by air) beginning about four miles west of South Mound in Neosho County. Here it appeared to be skipping, and topping and uprooting trees. This portion of the tornado track in Neosho County was rated by the Wichita National Weather Service Office.
From the Neosho and Crawford County line, or six miles north northwest of McCune F-2, damage was observed as the tornado moved east northeast until it reached about two miles south of Girard were the tornado intensified. Til this point, the tornado width was about 250 yards wide but increased to about one quarter mile wide about three miles west southwest of the community of Ringo. At this point we observed scouring of the field below and the tornado was rated an F-4 based on the type and scope of structural damage and very heavy objects such as vehicles being tossed several hundred feet away from their original position. The tornado continued its east northeast track as an F-4 as it reached the community of Franklin and caused severe and total devastation to numerous homes and buildings, and tossed heavy objects and vehicles several hundred feet. The tornado width continued over one quarter mile wide across the F-4 track.
It remained an F-4 east of Franklin to just south of Mulberry, KS. As it crossed into Missouri the tornado remained an intense high end F-4 rated tornado until it reached north of Liberal, Missouri, in Barton County, then an F-2 and F-1 as it lifted and became rain wrapped. This feature was observed by a storm chaser who also witnessed the formation of the northeast Barton, Cedar and Polk County tornado described in one of the other reports.
The length of this tornado was about 35 miles long and like the other long track tornadoes from May 4, 2003, it uprooted or snapped off numerous trees and poles, destroyed or severely/totally damaged many homes, barns and outbuildings, not to mention uprooting many large over 50 to 75 year old hardwood trees. Four people were killed along this tornado track. one of the other tragic occurrence from all these tornados was the death of farm animals and pets.
For images of this tornado and the damage it caused, click here.