May 20th - Tornado Anniversaries

Ruskin Heights
65 years ago this evening was the Ruskin Heights Tornado (F-5) which launched my career in meteorology. The photo above (used with permission) was when the tornado was near Ottawa. It was on the ground nearly 80 miles with the south of the Kansas City area comprising the last 20 miles. Forty-four people were killed and about 500 injured. It was the first time what we would, today, consider a tornado warning was issued by the government. 

The town of Codell, in north central Kansas north of Hays, was a prosperous community at the turn of the 20th Century. One hundred five yers ago today, was the middle of three freaks of nature: the town being hit by tornadoes on May 20, 1916, May 20, 1917 and May 20, 1918. In 1977, Weatherwise magazine published an article I wrote (above) about the history of the torn and its tornadoes. 

The worst of the tree was the last: Ten people died in the area. Below is a photo of the destroyed high school after the last of the three. 

On May 20, 2018, a tornado memorial was dedicated in the town.
In 2022, the town has shrunk to the point that it is no longer on many maps. My interview with lifetime resident Howard Hockett said that while the tornadoes were a blow, the bank collapse in 1929 was the blow that caused the town to slowly begin to die as it was a regional agricultural center. 

The Moore, OK tornado of 2013 was the last EF-5 intensity tornado in the U.S. -- a record length of time without a storm of that intensity. There were 24 fatalities plus two indirect deaths. 

Below is a photo of meteorologist/engineer Tim Marshall surveying the total devastation.
F-5's are horrible storms. I hope this record length of time without an F-5 continues for many more years!


Popular posts from this blog

Hilary's Forecast Path Shifts West; Updated 9:20am PDT

Dangerous Travel Conditions - People Reportedly Stranded

Dangerous Tornado Situation Developing Tuesday and Tuesday Night