To: Kansas City-Area Readers

The Ruskin Heights Tornado near Ottawa, Kansas,
on its way to the south Kansas City suburbs
Photo permission: "The Ottawa Herald"
As this exact moment in 1957, a tornado that would later inspire huge advances in weather science was touching down near Williamsburg, Kansas, and would stay on the ground continuously for 71 miles. It came to be known as the Ruskin Heights Tornado (RHT). It killed 44 and injured between 500 and 1,000. This morning, Kathleen and I were discussing this terrible storm and its victims. That, plus an email by meteorologist Lisa Teachman, got me thinking.

The RHT would inspire myself, Dennis Smith (no relation), and Les Lemon to become meteorologists. We matriculated through Grandview High School in south KC and the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology. The three of us accounted for the following inventions and innovations:
Please do not misunderstand: in no way am I saying this to boast. I am bringing it up to, hopefully, provide some small measure of consolation to those that lost friends and family members in the storm. 

Any one of the above would be a major scientific accomplishment; cumulatively, they are responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in averted property damage. 
The next day
As the dazed victims looked around the devastation the next morning they probably could not imagine that any good could possibly come from that horrible night. I wish to assure them in the strongest possible terms that tremendous good did come from that storm. 


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