April 14th tornado outbreak proved to be well warned but deadly in the Great Plains

It was only the second time since 2003 that a high risk for severe weather was issued more than 24 hours for the Great Plains. The magnitude of the event ended up living up to the advanced warning, especially, in Kansas and Oklahoma. Here’s a look at the tornado reports from Saturday, April 14th.

There were 110 reports of tornadoes from Iowa and Nebraska down into Kansas and Oklahoma. The number of reports in eastern Nebraska was smaller than expected given that area being under a high risk and the highest probabilities for tornadoes. The thinking for the high risk was the best upper level dynamics along the warm front would be in Nebraska for tornadoes. What ended up happening was there wasn’t much to hold back the atmosphere so storms started firing early than expected. That made the atmosphere more stable later in the afternoon and the tornado threat shifted south.

Those storms that initially fired in Nebraska would push east as a large complex of storms producing damaging winds, hail and even some tornadoes through southern Iowa Saturday afternoon. One tornado touched down in Creston, Iowa. Crews from the National Weather Service have been out the past two days checking out the damage from the tornadoes on Saturday. The National Weather Service ranked this one an EF-2 with maximum winds up to 130 mph. The tornado clipped the northwest side of Creston where the Greater Regional Medical Center took a direct hit and sustaining rather substantial damage as seen below. Thankfully there were no deaths but 10 people were injured.

The only deaths from the outbreak occurred in the small town of Woodward, OK. It was a night-time twister, which are the most deadly. Six people were killed including three children. It was also reported that the sirens in town were not working after being damage by a recent storm. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not rely on tornado sirens. They are meant for outdoor use, and there’s no guarantee you will hear them. Plus, the sirens really don’t tell you much in the way of information. I don’t mean to rant, but people need to stop depending on sirens to be warned of tornadoes and severe weather. Use weather radios or warning technology on your phone, and just be vigilant of severe weather when it’s in the forecast.

Above is a plot of the EF-3 tornadoes’ path as it tore through Woodward. There was another nighttime tornado that caused quite a scare. I was keeping my eye on it during the 10pm newscast on Saturday. A tornado looked to be on a direct path for the heart of the large city of Wichita, Kansas. The link below takes you to a detailed path from the National Weather Service of this tornado. The tornado was rated and EF-3 and mainly impacted the southern edge of the city. As you can see the tornado’s path made this a very close call for the city of Wichita. This could have been a much bigger disaster.
Wichita Tornado Path

Most of the tornadoes that spun up on Saturday stayed over rural areas. It will be determined over the coming days exactly how many tornadoes touched down on Saturday. The current thinking was 75 tornadoes made touchdowns on Saturday. This system eventually worked up to the Midwest bringing storms to the Chippewa Valley Sunday evening. It also brought a lot of snow to northeast Minnesota with some areas seeing over 10” in the Iron Range. Check out the map below. Just goes to show April can be a widely varied month when it comes to weather.

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