Finger on the Weather

Christmas Day tornado confirmed in northern Kansas; day’s total climbs to 6

The tornado total for Christmas Day continues to climb.

The National Weather Service branch in Hastings, Neb., has confirmed that a tornado touched down shortly before noon about 4 miles northwest of Alton in Osborne County. The tornado moved northeast for nearly 2 miles in a rural area, lifting after three minutes.

But the tornado was down long enough to damage trees, tip over a bulk bin and damage a house, according to the survey conducted by the weather service. The tornado was rated EF-0, with maximum winds of 85 mph. That’s the ceiling for an EF-0 tornado. Any stronger and it would have been an EF-1.

The Osborne County tornado was 50 yards wide, according to the weather service.

That report means six tornadoes have been confirmed in Kansas on Christmas Day. A damage survey on a possible tornado in Comanche County has not yet been released, meaning there could have been a seventh twister on Dec. 25.

Until Sunday, there had been a total of eight December tornadoes confirmed in Kansas since 1950. Christmas Day alone has nearly doubled that figure now.

A tornado that formed in Nebraska a few minutes after the Osborne County tornado earned an EF-1 rating, with maximum winds of 100 mph, and has the distinction of being the farthest north a tornado has formed on Christmas Day in U.S. history – barely toppling a tornado that formed in West Virginia in 1964.

The Osborne County tornado raises the total Kansas tornado count for 2016 to 101, though that number may increase yet again if the Comanche County storm is confirmed as a twister.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger