Archive for Monday, April 4, 2011

‘Gustnado’ causes minor damage Sunday in Williamstown

Chad Omitt of the National Weather Service explains the difference between a tornado and a gustnado. Meteorologists say a gustnado is responsible for damaging irrigation equipment, buildings and homes in and near Williamstown Sunday night. Williamstown is a few miles north of Lawrence on U.S. Highway 24.

April 4, 2011


A “gustnado” rolled through Williamstown on Sunday evening, damaging irrigation equipment, at least one structure and a railroad crossing.

According to Scott Blair, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, the dust cloud was not technically a tornado, but instead an area of enhanced wind damage — called a gustnado — that hit the small community about 10 miles northwest of Lawrence in Jefferson County.

He said that about 7:20 p.m., the gustnado had a strong vortex at the surface that may have made it look like a tornado. The gustnado was part of the storm that produced two-inch hail.

A report from the National Weather Service said winds inside the gustnado blew up to 80 mph. It lasted for five minutes, and at one point was a quarter-mile wide.

Barbara Mowder, Williamstown resident, said she had been watching weather reports on television when she started hearing the wind.

“This had more of a roar to it,” she said Monday morning.

Mowder said it looked like a large dust cloud. She watched as the gustnado took out a metal building in a field. At least two irrigation systems were damaged by the storm, and the arms were ripped off a railroad crossing.

Mowder said she didn’t hear tornado sirens until after the storm moved through.

“I’ve lived here 40-some years, and I’ve never seen something like that,” Mowder said. “I’ve seen tornadoes on the news, but this was so much different.”

Gordon Michels, with Midwest Irrigation Systems, was assessing damage Monday to the two irrigation systems that were blown around during Sunday’s storm. He said to replace both new would be $55,000. He said such damage wasn’t uncommon during high winds or tornadoes.


wmathews 7 years, 2 months ago

Neat! Thank you for sharing the link!

Angie Dick 7 years, 2 months ago

I so have to differ, with this so called gust./nado. I have lived in Kansas my intire life, it was a full blown tornado, when I saw it coming towards my home, it was right behind my neibor's house. there was lot's of rotation and lot's of debree flying in it. And u could hear it roar! It went really high up in the air and kinda disapated once, it passed the creek, Still was big but kinda broke up a bit. but put it this way the street infront of my house 1/8 mile long, it was 1/4 mile wide, try looking out ur front door seeing that? I have never saw anything like that in my life, or well not that close up. everyone say's it will sound like a freight train, They are not fibbing folks. Just thankfull our lil town survived and no one was hurt!

Erin Graham 7 years, 2 months ago

Here is a great explanation of what happened... The author is a well respected meteorologist in the area.

Erin Graham 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow.. ok chalk that one up to paying attention... The author of the link I just posted is the same person that was interviewed. That's the general consensus amongst people that were chasing/spotting in that location at the time, though.

davidmcg 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree, it was a tornado. We live way up at 94TH & Wellman Road and we could see it. There was attachment to the cloud base and it was rotating all the way up. We could also hear the noise all the way up here. Too many people on the scene reported massive inflow and rotation. "Gustanado"? Sounds like a term they came up with so the insurance companies don't have to pay claims.

George_Braziller 7 years, 2 months ago

Sounds a lot like the "micro-burst" in Lawrence that supposedly wasn't a small tornado. Plenty of people saw that one as well but it ended up being called a micro-burst because someone was sleeping on the job and needed to save face.

I saved some of the sheets of bark that exploded off of the tree that crashed into my house after the top half twisted off counter clockwise.

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