14 April 2012
Kansas Tornado Outbreak

Photos © 2012 Scott F. Blair

Select a gallery below:
St. John/Hudson, KS Tornadoes
Kanopolis Lake, KS EF4 Tornado
Salina/Solomon, KS Tornado

The trailing supercell near Raymond, KS became the dominant supercell following the lead stormís demise. The storm developed a large wet hook to the south of a concentrated area of rotation. An initial swirl of dust underneath a tight wall cloud northeast of Lyons, KS, signaled the beginning of the Kanopolis Lake tornado. The tornado rapidly became a legit wedge tornado before disappearing from my vantage point in precipitation.

I quickly repositioned by driving north on Hwy 14, then east on Hwy 4 towards Crawford, KS. I lost visual of the tornado for a solid seven minutes while in moderate precipitation, but my visibility improved west of Crawford as I drove past the leading edge of the forward-flank precipitation, revealing the ongoing tornado. The width of the vortex had narrowed some by this time, but the rotational velocities appeared more intense.

Highway 4 provided a very unique opportunity to closely parallel the tornado for over a 3 mile stretch as the road and vortex moved in a northeast fashion. I was able to observe intricate details of the tornado within a one mile range for about 5 minutes. Several supplemental narrow vortices condensed on the periphery of the parent vortex and quickly became ingested.

I decided to position further down Highway 4 where the road makes an east turn. I judged the trajectory of the tornado and stopped on an east-facing hill that would presumably contain a favorable view of the vortex crossing the road. The tornadoís audible roar was very impressive as it approached the road. Most of the precipitation had ended at my location, and the high-contrast combined with the rapidly rotating tornado made for a spectacular sight. The circulation crossed the road approximately one-quarter mile east of my location, lofting pieces of vegetation high into the sky.

I crossed the damage path along Highway 4 where several trees had been severely damaged. The tornado unfortunately struck a farmstead shortly after crossing the road, resulting in an EF4 damage rating. After maneuvering through some downed power lines, I casually continued eastbound, watching the dramatic sight out the drivers-side window.

The violent tornado continued on its northeast journey across sparsely populated countryside. The flat and colorful terrain of the Smoky Hill River basin made for a very picturesque sight. As the tornado exited the river basin, it effortlessly climbed rougher terrain. It was neat to watch it move up one particular hill with a 200 ft rise in elevation.

Back to home

All photographs and images on this and associated pages are Copyrighted © by Scott F. Blair. Any reproduction either electronic or otherwise without written permission and consent from Scott F. Blair is strictly prohibited by Federal Law. Please direct all inquiries or comments to: Scott F. Blair

Return to Target Area