May 20, 2013

Sunday's tornado southwest of Wichita rated an EF-1

The National Weather Service has rated the tornado that touched down southwest of Wichita Sunday afternoon as an EF-1, with winds of up to 110 miles an hour.

The tornado touched down at about 3:30 p.m. about five miles north of Clearwater and traveled northeast for about 4.5 miles, according to the weather service.

Here’s a photo of the tornado by Shalyn Phillips, who was tracking the storm with Dick McGowan and Darin Brunin.

Damage was reported to multiple homesteads in the area, including power poles, trees and outbuildings. These damage photos, taken by the weather service’s damage survey team, were collected in an area between five miles north of Clearwater and two miles south of Mid-Continent Airport.

No injuries were reported. The tornado prompted the issuance of a “tornado emergency” for the city of Wichita by the National Weather Service, since the tornado was on a track that would have brought it right through the heart of the city if it had stayed on the ground.

Winds were strong enough to snap fully grown trees, but weather researcher Jon Davies said the conditions in the Wichita area weren’t conducive to long-lasting tornadoes – “only brief spin-ups compared to the much better environment in Oklahoma with long track tornadoes there.”

One person was killed in Pottawatomie County in Oklahoma when a tornado decimated a trailer park. More than 20 people were injured.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., logged 28 reports of tornadoes in five states, most of them in Kansas and Oklahoma. Some of those reports, however, could be multiple views of the same tornado.

ABC’s Ginger Zee was tracking the Sedgwick County storm and filed this report last night from outside Clearwater.

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