Linwood, KS

Linwood Tornado - 3 years later - Active Tornado Years

Brian E Erwin

The holiday weekend forecast hasn’t really changed. Overall, it should be a very nice weekend. The muggy air will return - and there is a disturbance showing up. However, all indications as of now are that the more wingspread rain will arrive Tuesday into Wednesday as we leave May and head into June. The question is will there be severe weather with this system? It is a little early to fully determine that - but at this point - any possible severe weather should be out to our west.

So, let’s go back in time, and take a look at 2019, specifically May of 2019. 2019 had its share of deadly outbreaks - and May of 2019 was no exception. “The Tornado Outbreak Sequence of May 2019, was a prolonged series of destructive tornadoes affecting the United States over the course of nearly two weeks, producing a total of 400 tornadoes, including 51 significant events (EF2+). Eighteen of these were EF3 tornadoes, spanning multiple states, including Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio, with additional tornadoes, confirmed across a region extending from California to New Jersey.


The Storm Prediction Center issues several outlooks - this was their day one outlook:
Day One Severe Weather OutlookSPC

The stage was set for a major outbreak over NE KS. The Storms Prediction Center issued a "Moderate Risk" for severe weather for Tuesday, May 28th, 2019 - as Severe weather was expected including long-lived Tornadoes. Here is a more focused outlook on the KC Region for May 28th, 2019:
Moderate Risk of Severe WeatherStorms Prediction Center

In the early afternoon of May 28th, a discussion was issued as the SPC was thinking about issuing a Tornado Watch.
Watch DiscussionStorms Prediction Center

The big concern wit
Severe Weather Type and PotentialSPC

There was a high likelihood of Tornadoes - which could be strong in the forecast.

On the evening of May 28, this massive, violent, multiple-vortex, rain-wrapped wedge tornado touched down at the north side of Lone Star Lake in Douglas County, Kansas. As the tornado formed, it absorbed the circulation of a smaller EF2 tornado that was moving along the east side of the lake.

The tornado began to widen and strengthen as it continued just northeast of Lone Star Lake, snapping and uprooting numerous large trees at EF2 intensity. Several cars were tossed into a field, outbuildings were destroyed, and power poles were snapped nearby. The tornado then weakened to high-end EF1 intensity causing lesser roof damage to another nearby home.

Quickly re-intensifying, the tornado became an EF3. Two well-built homes sustained the loss of their roofs and multiple exterior walls. Trees were snapped, outbuildings were destroyed, and a large truck was rolled as well.

Past Lawrence KS, the tornado regained EF3 intensity as it moved through rural areas to the northeast of Eudora. Multiple well-built homes sustained roof and exterior wall loss, and a large masonry school building that housed a daycare center sustained major structural damage. Storm spotters reported multiple vortices with this tornado in these areas, many trees were denuded and debarked, and large amounts of debris were strewn through open farm fields.

As the rain-wrapped tornado crossed the Kansas River and moved into Leavenworth County, it snapped numerous trees at EF2 intensity. The tornado then reached its peak intensity as it struck the western outskirts of Linwood, where an anchor-bolted frame home was completely leveled and partially swept away. All that remained at this site was the home's basement and a pile of debris, and this point of damage was rated EF4.

As the tornado emerged from the rain, storm spotters again reported multiple vortices. A house was destroyed in this area as well, and damage along this portion of the path was rated high-end EF2. A mixture of EF1 and EF2 damage was observed as the tornado continued to the northeast through rural areas, impacting several homes. Damaged ranged from sections of roofing torn off to severe structural damage. Just west of Bonner Springs, the tornado crossed Linwood Road, causing EF1 damage to outbuildings. Some minor EF0 tree limb damage was noted before the tornado dissipated.

The tornado was rated EF4 and was up to one mile wide at times. It was on the ground for 55 minutes and traveled a distance of 29.07 miles. No fatalities occurred, though 18 people were injured. The tornado dissipated shortly before it would have entered populated areas of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The Kansas City International Airport, over 40 miles away from the area affected by the tornado, reported debris on the runway. A large amount of debris led to dozens of flight cancellations. The tornado was the first violent tornado to strike the state of Kansas since a high-end EF4 came within close range of the towns of Abilene and Chapman on May 25, 2016.
Linwood Tornado 2019National Weather Service
Damage by EF4 Linwood KS Tornado - May 28th 2019NWS Pleasant Hill

Here is the path of the 2019 Linwood Twister:
Linwood Twister PathTornado Archive

No question, this outbreak of tornadoes was one of the worst in US history - especially in the second half of the month. In fact, May of 2019 comes in at #5 for the most number of tornadoes in a month. The number one spot there is 542 twisters in 2003. Two through four when it comes to the most tornado Mays are 2004 (509), 2008 (460), 1995 (394), and 2015 (381). For Kansas, you have to go back to 2008 to look at the biggest Tornado Day when 70 tornadoes occurred. Something else interesting is that in 2019 there were a total of 1,529 Tornadoes. The highest-rated was EF4 of which only 5 occurred - including Linwood KS. In the US there were 42 people who were killed - which is not good - but more people are killed in auto accidents than Tornadoes.
Tornadoes and other storm reports KC Region 2019Storms Prediction Center

Another fact about 2019: There were 3 tornadoes tied for the highest-rated tornado in 2019 with a rating of EF4 and a maximum estimated winds of 170 mph: Lee County, AL on March 3, Dayton, OH on May 27, and Linwood, KS on May 28.

2019 was a busy severe weather year following relatively quiet years in 2017 and 2018. Several streaks came to an end on March 3 including a record number of days between violent tornadoes and a record number of days between killer tornadoes. In addition, the High Risk issued on May 20, 2019 was the first in over 2 years.

Severe Weather Mid-May 2019:
Chances of a TornadoSPC
EF1/F1 TornadoesTornado Archive

Speaking of severe weather - this season will go into the books as another strange severe weather season in the KC Region especially when it comes to Tornadoes. We have had some small Tornadoes, but not the normal amount that we normally see. What is interesting is since 2019, especially in KS, there has not been a Tornado Watch issued for the KC Metro. We will have gone three years without a watch.

So now let's look at the past three years.
Tornadoes since 2019 in the regionTornado Archive

The following maps show Tornado watches issued across the country in 2020, 2021, and 2022. You can see that a "Tornado Watch," has not been issued in most of the KC region since 2019:
Tornado Watches 2020SPC
Tornado Watches issued 2021Storms Prediction Center
Tornado Watches Issued 2022Storms Prediction Center

So far in 2022, there have been 621 confirmed tornadoes.
Confirmed Tornadoes 2022Supportstorm

Tornado season” is both a misnomer and a relatively accurate framing of the situation. Although tornadoes can and do happen across the year, the vast majority occur during spring and early summer. If extending the core season from March through July, the period sees 69 percent of tornadoes on average. Months that currently have an average of over 100 tornadoes are April (191), May (273), June (200), and July (109). (Source Tornado

So far in 2022 despite some of the big outbreaks of tornadoes, we have had a low number of watches issued - at 122 nationwide. 2015 had 213 through today’s date. The lowest is the year afterward, 2016 when only 113 were issued through late May.
Number of Tornado Watches last 10 YearsFox 4 Weather Blog

Again, 2019 was a very active year:
Watches thru the YearsSPC

Now we jump ahead to 2021 - 2021 was an odd year with most of the significant severe weather events very early and very late in the year. March had 2 separate "High Risk" events which was the first time since 1991. The heart of the severe weather season (April through June) was very quiet, particularly for tornadoes. April had the fewest tornado reports on record, May had no EF3+ tornadoes for the first time on record, and June had the 5th fewest significant tornadoes in recorded history. Severe weather picked up again in the fall and October had the 2nd most tornadoes on record. However, October would eventually be overshadowed by December. December had the most tornadoes and preliminary severe weather reports on record with both records nearly doubling the previous record, the 9th longest tornado path on record on December 10, the most preliminary significant thunderstorm wind gusts in a day, and the first December Minnesota tornado on record on December 15. Prior to December, the tornado fatalities numbers were on pace to be well below normal in 2021, but after 87 people died in tornadoes on December 10, the 2021 tornado fatalities continued the trend of the past few years of increasing tornado deaths. (Storms Prediction Center)
2021 Severe Weather DeathsStorms Prediction Center
Summary of Severe Weather 2021Storms Prediction Center
Fall Severe WeatherStorms Prediction Center

Despite this, KC really lucked out when it came to severe weather over the past three years. 2022 has been an odd season so far for KC. It is not over yet. We are expected to have strong storms in the next few weeks as the Jet stream is not expected to lift north.

Current Jet Stream:
Jet StreamACCU Weather

This is one forecast for severe weather in the summer.
Severe Weather RiskACCU Weather
Summer HighlightsACCU Weather

Forecast for the next week for The KC Region
Forecast for the next weekWeather Bell
More Data - TempsWeather Bell
Total Forecast RainfallWeather Bell

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I have experience in all kinds of writing from creative to professional. I especially like to write about weather - and share weather history.

Gardner, KS

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