Archive for Saturday, May 24, 2008

More tornadoes strike Kansas

May 24, 2008


Tornadoes rampaged in western and central Kansas for the second night in a row, destroying at least one house and causing widespread damage to farm buildings and power lines.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

Emergency officials in Commanche County said the city of Protection took a direct hit from a tornado Friday night, but they had no details yet.

Kiowa County officials said a funnel cloud passed directly over Greensburg, causing minor damage. A massive tornado destroyed most of Greensburg a year ago.

Authorities in the counties of Ellis, Trego and Gove also reported destruction. They said crews were out assessing the damage.

Many of the communities suffered minor damage Thursday night when as many as 10 tornadoes touched down.

On her way to a family reunion in Bird City, a small town in northwest Kansas, Rhonda Miller, a Lawrence Journal-World citizen journalist, and her two children spotted a tornado a half mile wide touching ground near Interstate 70.

"We could literally feel the air sucking in the direction of the tornado," she said.

Just past Grainfield, a small town along I-70, they approached a line of cars that were pulled over on the side of the road. At the same time Miller realized several sheriff's deputies had blocked traffic, several storm chaser vehicles sped past Millers' car and pulled ahead into a median. Miller said she watched several people jump out of their vehicles with photographic equipment.

It was then Miller saw the tornado touch the ground for about two minutes.

After brief discussion about whether to stay in the car of get out, she and her son, Scott Miller, 20, and daughter Apple Miller, 17, decided to join the storm chasers.

"I hadn't seen one that big and it was literally coming right at us," Miller said. "I was thinking at what point in time are we going to do something?"

If it had come in any closer, they were going to return to the car, she said, but the boldness of the storm chasers encouraged the Millers to remain standing on the road.

"These guys (the storm chasers) were absolutely thrilled they could capture this," Miller said.

She said she met a few of them who were from Denver giving a $200 storm-chasing tour to people from Salt Lake City.

Miller's son, who had gone through storm spotter training, was just as excited, she said.

"He always wanted to see one that close up," Miller said. "He thought it was the best thing in the world."

Once the storm dissipated the Millers returned to their car. Back on the road they traveled about half a mile west and saw a car that had been destroyed, possibly by the tornado.

"It was totally in pieces," she said.

The storm was expected to continue producing super cells Friday night and into the morning, but they were expected to move north and east into central and eastern Nebraska, and would likely miss eastern Kansas, said Jennifer Schack, 6News chief meteorologist.

Staff writer Erin Castaneda and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Ronda Miller 9 years, 11 months ago

keith, I really appreciate the links you posted. They certainly add the thrill that we experienced when we saw the wedge tornado - something words are dificult to convey.My son and daughter thank you also!Erin did a great job of taking my words and writing an article for the ljworld. I was so excited that the words tumbling out of my mouth lacked any cohesion, but Erin was calm and easy to talk with and somehow managed to decipher what I meant! :) Thanks, Erin!

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