Finger on the Weather

Weather officials: Rare December tornado 100 yards wide, touched down near Harper

Tornado near Harper (Dec. 14, 2014)
Tornado near Harper (Dec. 14, 2014) Courtesy of Jim Crombie

The rare December tornado that touched down southwest of Wichita late Sunday afternoon has been rated an EF-0 by the National Weather Service.

The tornado touched down at 5:38 p.m. a little more than a mile northeast of Harper in Harper County. It stayed on the ground for a little more than five miles and was about 100 yards wide, according to a damage assessment survey conducted by the weather service.

The tornado had maximum winds of 85 miles an hour and damaged trees and rolled hay bales in a rural part of the county. It lifted at 5:45 p.m. just south of the Kingman County line after traveling north-northeast.

An EF-0 is the least damaging tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which has been used to rate tornadoes since 2007. The most damaging is an EF-5, which has wind speeds in excess of 200 miles an hour.

Local weather officials say it’s the first tornado to touch down in December in the 26 counties covered by the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service since 1956.