2003-05-04 KS/MO/OK outbreak

Girard/Franklin KS, Stockton/Pierce City MO: sorry mods for not posting this in the name of the thread

Most of us remember this deadly tornadic outbreak, many tornadoes affecting well populated areas and in some cases entire towns taking direct hits. T
This event has long raised questions for me regarding the fast pace and movement of the dryline. Below I have pasted the surface plots/Tds for 21z, interestingly enough the dryline at 21z was just east of ICT and was moving east FAST!
I was chasing with Randy Hicks on this day and remember hearing (via NOAA radio) that the dryline was moving east at 40-50mph at one point.
I do not ever remember a dryline moving this fast before and have always wondered why this happend. Also attached is a video grab from my cam of the Girard KS F-4. This killer tornado was a very long track tornado that we first intercepted north of Parsons KS.
Any ideas?
 

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STurner

EF2
Nov 21, 2008
182
1
0
Shawnee, KS 66217
This is the day that that really sparked my interest in tornadoes. I watched the KC F4 tornado live on television. Too bad I had to work for it would have been a real treat to chase that tornado. The Girard/Franklin Kansas tornado also is a very interesting. For some reason I get this gut feeling this tornado was an F5 even though it was rated high-end F4. It also produced some of the most amazing ground scouring I have ever seen.
 
Mar 17, 2009
108
0
5
Manhattan, KS
I remember that day well. I was even thinking about going out as it was on a day off and had some spare cash. I planned on staging at the Kansas Speedway and let the storms come in. If I would have I would have been right on that tornado near Kansas City. :( Just could not get everything together for that day. It was, however the first storm that I was able to forecast a good chase area with so it at least made me feel good about that.
 

Joey Ketcham

It is hard to believe that it will have been 6 years since the May 4th outbreak, just last year when I did the Symposium for the 5th year anniversary I commented then how hard it was to believe how long it had been since that day. I remember it as if it happened just yesterday.

Frankin and Girard are both just 7 miles from my house, my sister-in-laws parents lost their house in the tornado and a couple of friends of mine were hit by the tornado as well. I targeted closer to the dryline earlier in the day and started out north of Cherryvale where I got into Golfball size hail. I saw a weak rope tornado north of Parsons but then got caught by road construction and had to detour around to get back down to the highway. By the time I got back down to Highway 400 the storm was way ahead of me. I never saw the wedge tornado that hit Franklin despite it being 7 miles north of where I live. Though something that big knowing what it was doing and knowing that people I know were being affected by it, I’m not sure I would have wanted to see it.

I know Doug Cramer mentioned they saw evidence of F5 damage, but overall the majority of the damage was F4 which is why they went with the F4 rating.

Since my sister-in-law’s parents lived in Franklin, we had access to get into Franklin that day and the days after so I have tons of pictures I took of the damage.
 
Jan 29, 2004
1,018
6
11
Canton, Ohio
www.myspace.com
As Joey said, it is hard to believe it's been almost 6 years since that outbreak. We intercepted the F3 tornado that went near Baxter Springs, Kansas (Cherokee County) and into SW Missouri. We got a fairly late start chasing that day but we were able to intercept the tornado as it was on the ground. This is probably equal in size to Quinter #1 as being the largest tornadoes we have scene.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p9RlJMqHyo&feature=player_embedded
 
I know Doug Cramer mentioned they saw evidence of F5 damage, but overall the majority of the damage was F4 which is why they went with the F4 rating.
God has it been 6 years already? I knew that Cramer and others including a few of the Texas Tech team mentioned possible F-5 damage including the area just southwest of Girard. This was the area where Randy and I had total ground scouring (no vegetation left) and this is also near where a house was completly destroyed (with only the foundation left) and the debris thrown into the pond/lake about 400 yards away.
I remember stopping to try and find a payphone to do some phoners with KTUL and TWC and to sell video (I did not have a cell phone or any data...oh the good old days!) I remember passing the area mentioned above and that's when the true reality of what just happened hit me.

The most interesting meteorological aspect to me was how quick the dryline was moving east....we have had set ups that looked almost identical to that event from 500mb down to 925 but I have personally not seen a dryline move as fast as that one did to date.
I know there was a good punch nearing 700mb and I do remember classic loaded soundings throughout the region with massive amounts of helecity but I still can not understand why it was moving so fast.....

A day that I will never forget thats for sure!
 

Shane Adams

I know Doug Cramer mentioned they saw evidence of F5 damage, but overall the majority of the damage was F4 which is why they went with the F4 rating.
F-scale ratings are given based on the highest damage point found, not the average. I'm very curious why they rated this tornado based on "average" damage; if all tornadoes were rated using this method, there wouldn't be any F5 tornadoes.
 

STurner

EF2
Nov 21, 2008
182
1
0
Shawnee, KS 66217
Yeah, I thought if even one home receives F5/EF5 damage and the rest is F0/EF0-F4/EF4 then the tornado will get an F5/EF5 even though it was just one home.
 
Jul 21, 2004
409
0
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Springfield, NE
I got suckered into heading for the first Red Box that stretched across NE-NC KS and SE-SC NE, instead of heading to TOP and KC. I was rewarded by lots of hail from high-based storms and a running commentary from KC radio stations as I watched the towers way off on the eastern horizon. Kicked myself for days afterward.
 

Joey Ketcham

F-scale ratings are given based on the highest damage point found, not the average. I'm very curious why they rated this tornado based on "average" damage; if all tornadoes were rated using this method, there wouldn't be any F5 tornadoes.
Not sure, I always thought it was based on the highest damage point found as you mentioned but I never was sure on that. I know on at least two occassions Cramer had mentioned the F4 rating being based on overall damage and talked about that some last year when we did the severe weather symposium in Franklin and in fact I think I have audio recording from another presentation he did on it stating the same.
 
Nov 23, 2005
644
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Colorado Springs
If you read many of Dr. Fujiata's descriptions of the Fujita scale and subsequent information from the SPC, they use the word "typical" damage, and not average or highest. Perhaps that accounts for why the Girard tornado was given an F4.
 
Dec 27, 2008
31
1
5
Springfield, MO
I was in Pierce City, MO a couple of hours after it struck. I'm a paramedic and was invited to come help with triage. It turned out that I wasn't needed, but I still welcomed the opportunity because it was my first experience witnessing the aftermath of a tornado. (Since then, I've worked or otherwise been in quite a few, but this was my first).

One of the first sights I witnessed was a large boat lying in the middle of the street, partially blocking the road. I also saw a balcony ripped off a duplex, lying a short distance away. In itself, that wasn't so spectacular, but what struck me was that the plastic patio furniture was still standing upright on the deck. How is that even possible? I also saw and photographed a wooden 2x4 plank impaled through a concrete wall.

None of this is unique of course, but considering it was my first encounter with a tornado's damage, it left quite a first impression on me, and was a big reason why I became fascinated with meteorology and storm chasing.

As for Stockton, I basically grew up there during my teen years. I'm still amazed when I look at the level 2 data in GR2AE. The radar images are impressive, and (like Pierce City) the town took a direct hit.
 

Joey Ketcham

If you read many of Dr. Fujiata's descriptions of the Fujita scale and subsequent information from the SPC, they use the word "typical" damage, and not average or highest. Perhaps that accounts for why the Girard tornado was given an F4.
I know it's just minor detail, but more accurately it is the Franklin tornado. The tornado passed south of Girard leaving Girard untouched. Franklin which is east, slightly northeast was completely leveled by the tornado.
 
Apr 10, 2008
460
120
11
Tulsa, OK
www.facebook.com
I chased this event with Justin Teague and Dave Crowley. We intercepted a cell along the OK/KS border and followed it east. As we neared Neosho, MO we witnessed an interesting cell merger as a left split from a storm to the south made a mad dash north and merged with our storm as it crossed into MO. We had to stop in Neosho for gas and a restroom stop. As we waited we could see a nice wall cloud quickly take shape just to our east. We never caught up to the storm and made it to Pierce City just 20 minutes after the tornado hit. This was a dissapointing chase, and I learned a valuable lesson about positioning well east of a dryline on days like this.
 

Matt Gingery

I remember this day like it was yesterday. I happened to live in Battlefield, Missouri and documented the entire event on my old 8mm Sharp camera. Loaded Gun set up. The F-3 Tornado destroyed my neighborhood (Laurel Farms) I managed to film the Multivortex to within a 100 yards, took cover and then came out to film the TOR roping out 2 blocks east of my house. Insane Outbreak. . .Below are some visible satellite pics of 18z and 21z




 
Nov 28, 2005
1,054
0
5
55
Overland Park KS
vortex-times.com
Yep remember this chase with my partner Rich Thies quite well. Got the F-4 as it moved into MO and nearly hit the town of Liberal. Dropped south and got the F-3 tornado moving just past Carl Junction...and then caught the waning mins. (roping out) of the Battlefield tornado Matt mentions. We were just a few mins. away from Pierce City after the tornado hit town and moved off. Was a crazy chase and it seemed to be so wild asthings progressed into SW Missouri from SE Kansas. I'll post some tornado pics from this one in a few days.
 

Mike Smith

My entire family lives in south Kansas City. So, about 1pm, I telephoned my parents, two brothers, and two sisters and told them that this was a very dangerous situation in the KC area and that I thought the odds were very high there was going to be a tornado in the area. I asked them and their children to stay close in touch with the weather as the afternoon progressed.

Of course, there was a major tornado in Wyandotte Co. and "north of the River" as people in south KC refer to it.

I thought the family would be very pleased with my concern and the accuracy of my forecast. Instead, I got a call from my Mom (about 11 miles from the tornado's path) who said, Dad and I were going to go to a movie this afternoon and we stayed home and nothing happened here!

Sigh.

It is sometimes amazing how our forecasts are perceived by those outside of the profession.
 

Matt Hughes

That day was as fast-paced as it gets. Lanny is right, the dryline was screaming. We got a late start out of Wichita and rolled into Girard as the tornado was quickly moving off to the Northeast.
We then jumped south to the next cell and watched the second long track tornado of the day develop near Columbus, KS.
After moving into Missouri we found ourselves in a bad position in the hills and in the core of the Pierce City storm. Debri was falling around us so we decided to back off. I also remember how tough it was to get home that night from Springfield to Wichita because many roads were closed as a result of all the tornadoes.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aywaBb8hJR4
 

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Nov 28, 2005
1,054
0
5
55
Overland Park KS
vortex-times.com
Here are a few photos of the F4 tornado crossing into Missouri from SE Kansas...to the sw and w of the town of Liberal MO (Barton Co.) It went through several classic stages before roping out and missing the town of Liberal. Meanwhile several miles to the northeast, the Stockton MO long tracked tornado had just been born...


Looking very much like the Bridge Creek OK F5 at this point...


Tornado vortex constricts and remains very intense...sw of Liberal


Tornado weakening west of Liberal (looking north)
 
Dec 8, 2003
2,208
2
6
Kansas City, Missouri
This was quite a day. I remember going through the efforts of forecasting for an entire week before this event, and talking about it with other chasers in the chatroom.

On May 3rd, we saw one brief tornado near the river to the northwest of Platte City, MO early on, then moved south to intercept the larger storm as it moved over Gladstone/Carriage Hills subdivision. I spend a lot of time in the Carriage Hills neighborhood now, and it's amazing how well it recovered after being so completely destroyed by this storm. Interestingly, the embedded tornadoes along a bow echo that occurred here a couple years ago were also very close to this same neighborhood, which has also now been rebuilt.

As we followed the storm through Liberty, you can see the tornado roping out to the east of town in our video. We came upon several homes that had been completely destroyed, one of which happened to belong to a friend of our family. They were still trapped inside as we filmed it and the rescue crews were pulling up. I was able to show it to them later. They didn't have time to make it to their basement, but had happened to be in parts of the house that offered enough protection to survive.

One of the feelings I remember most from this day is the helplessness as a large tornado barelled through populated neighborhoods, and the debris that rained down around our car. We saw pieces of homes, insulation, roofs, etc. falling around us. I have a lot of friends in this part of town, so I also remember how nervous it made me feel. For such a major event, it's unbelievable how few were hurt or killed.

That's the first time I've seen the video posted by Andrew in KCK. Really something. This storm was infamous for the terrific video of the initial tornado obtained by Kiesling near the turnpike, and the fact that the same tornado later weaved its way through the parking lots between the newly constructed super raceway and shopping centers at Village West, on its way to reaching F4 status over Carriage Hills across the river.

The ingredients for supercells and tornadoes couldn't have been more perfect than they were that day across eastern Kansas and western Missouri.

Here's a link to some of the threads that day from the old ST group on Yahoo: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/stormtrack/messages/3611?viscount=-30&l=1
 
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B Jensen

There was also a noteable tornado that started near Nevada, Missouri that eventually wiped out the town of Stockton, Missouri. It's been almost 7 years now, so I don't quite remember, but I think Stockton was taken out right after nightfall? From what I understand (I've been moved away for sometime) they are still rebuilding in the downtown areas. I think it was an extention of the Girard tornado, touching down shortly after it dissipated. All told thats probably one of the longest tornados the Ozarks has ever seen. Even longer if you consider all 3 one event.

I also take special note to this tornado, I was a senior in HS and was watching the radar on television (There wasn't high speed internet in the backwoods then ;) ) and the meterologist from KY3 drawing the projected path with in a lines width of my residence. This is one of the events that shaped my desire to learn about weather.
 

Joey Ketcham

There was also a noteable tornado that started near Nevada, Missouri that eventually wiped out the town of Stockton, Missouri. It's been almost 7 years now, so I don't quite remember, but I think Stockton was taken out right after nightfall? From what I understand (I've been moved away for sometime) they are still rebuilding in the downtown areas. I think it was an extention of the Girard tornado, touching down shortly after it dissipated. All told thats probably one of the longest tornados the Ozarks has ever seen. Even longer if you consider all 3 one event.

I also take special note to this tornado, I was a senior in HS and was watching the radar on television (There wasn't high speed internet in the backwoods then ;) ) and the meterologist from KY3 drawing the projected path with in a lines width of my residence. This is one of the events that shaped my desire to learn about weather.
Yeah that tornado that hit Stockton was from the same supercell that spawned the F3/F4 tornado that went through Crawford County destroying pretty much all of Franklin, KS.

That tornado actually hit very close to home for me. I have lived in Crawford County my whole life and still do, several close friends were impacted by the tornado. My brother's in-laws lived in Franklin at the time and they took a direct hit by the tornado... and they were inside their house. I remember rolling into Franklin and seeing it destroyed and having to make that phone call to my brother and his wife telling them that Franklin was wiped off the face of the map and that her parents house took a direct hit.

I targeted near the Cherryvale/Parsons area and chased it all the way back to Crawford County, after Franklin got destroyed my priorities changed and my chasing ended there since it became more personal at that moment since I knew so many people who lived in the direct path of it.

It's hard to believe it's already been 7 years. If memory serves right, I think Lanny Dean got some great video of that tornado.
 

Jason Bolt

Pretty sure Jeff Piotrowski got some good video of the Franklin storm as well.