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Friday, July 11, 2014

Tornado that struck Wichita was a mile wide

By Stan Finger
The Wichita Eagle

The National Weather Service has released a map of the path taken by the EF3 tornado that struck the Wichita metropolitan area Saturday night.

Meteorologist Ken Cook, who conducted the damage survey, said the tornado was a mile wide as it moved between the Kansas Turnpike and the west side of McConnell Air Force Base. It first touched down at Broadway and 79th Street South on the south edge of Haysville, moved northeast through Oaklawn and southeast Wichita and spent much of its 15-mile path paralleling the Kansas Turnpike.

The tornado was on the ground for about 20 minutes, traveling at 40 miles an hour, then lifted just before it reached K-96 north of Central.

The same supercell thunderstorm produced several tornadoes before it reached Wichita, weather officials said. The strongest of those tornadoes was a mile wide and measured EF3 — with winds of up to 165 miles an hour — just southwest of Conway Springs before it lifted and spared the town.

The supercell had two significant tornadoes on the ground at the same time for several miles in northwest Sumner County, weather service officials said.

“That would have been pretty cool to see in the daylight,” weather service meteorologist Robb Lawson said.

The second tornado lifted just after passing the east side of Conway Springs.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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