Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Tornado Chronicles: Harveyville, KS Tornado of 2-28-12

A strong tornado struck the Harveyville, KS area just after 9pm CST on Tuesday evening, February 28, 2012. The official National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Survey has rated this tornado EF-2 intensitywhich would suggest maximum winds of 111-135 mph.

The tornado caused significant damage to many structures including an apartment complex and the United Methodist Church, which was built in 1885.  Reportedly, the only thing left standing at the church was the concrete storm shelter, which I believe is beneath the steps that you can see in this photo below:

Based on the NWS survey, the tornado touched down 1 mile Southwest of Harveyville at 9:02 pm CST, and travelled along a path approximately 5 miles before ending about 4 miles Northeast of Harveyville.  The maximum width of the damage path was 150 yards:

So far, reports indicate that 12 people were injured as a result of this tornado. Unfortunately, one of those that were injured yesterday have since passed away, a 53 year old man.  It is reported that his home "collapsed" on top of him.  I do not know if it was a frame built home or a mobile home at this time.

According to one amazing story, a grandfather prevented his 8 year old grandson from being sucked out of the front window by catching him in mid-air in the living room.  He escaped with only minor injuries!

The following damage photos were taken by the NWS survey team:

Radar indicated a very strong rotational signature, as shown on this image as the storm approached Harveyville from the Southwest.  The circulation signature is circled in yellow: 

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was in effect for Harveyville at the time that the tornado touched down.  The warning included the tag line that tornadoes sometimes form quickly in severe highlighted in the actual warning below:

I will reserve further comment on this aspect of the situation until after I've had an opportunity to thoroughly review all of the radar data, which I hope to get done today...

This post will be updated frequently over the coming days.  If you have an interest in this tornado, please bookmark the post and check back for updates over the next 24-48 hours as additional information becomes available...

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