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Morning Sun
  • A lot like Leap Day

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    The storm that ripped through Crawford County Monday evening went on to produce two tornadoes, but National Weather Service assessments indicate the damage in the local area was due to straight-line winds.

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    The storm that ripped through Crawford County Monday evening went on to produce two tornadoes, but National Weather Service assessments indicate the damage in the local area was due to straight-line winds.

    “We’ve determined that we had some straight-line winds in Pittsburg,” said Doug Cramer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Basically you had what we call a rear inflow jet that crashed down to the surface causing 90-mile-per-hour winds.”

    Cramer said the storm system did begin to produce significant rotation west of Pittsburg, but the damage would have been much worse had a tornado touched down.

    “Essentially, you get this really strong jet of winds coming into the thunderstorm, but the rain pushes the jet down to the surface of the earth,” Cramer said. “It’s very similar to the situation you had on Feb. 29 of last year.”

    Cramer added that Monday night’s damage was due to 90-mile-per-hour winds, and said the Leap Day storm was in the 120-mile-per-hour range.

    “That was the strongest straight-line winds I’d ever seen,” Cramer said of the Feb. 29 storm.

    The storm cell Monday produced an EF-1 tornado that traveled 6.78 miles and was 100 yards wide as it traveled through Barton County. A second tornado developed from the same cell in the Stockton Lake area.

    In the hours after the storm, most area communities that were without power Monday evening did have it restored.

    Even some of the communities that initially reported damage and power outages were recovering quickly.

    “Arma had some tree loss, some split trees and some limbs down,” said Arma city clerk Bette Lessen. “We did have a power loss, but it was very short.”

    To the south, Franklin also had limbs down and some flooding, according to Phyllis Bitner, director of Miners Hall Museum.

    “At the museum we lost a couple of our brand new signs,” she said, adding that one was wrapped around a pole and two had not yet been recovered.”

    Page 2 of 2 - The siren in Franklin did sound, but was not rotating, and Bitner said that is being addressed.

    The City of Pittsburg has shut down Schlanger Park, where Parks and Recreation director Kim Vogel estimated 65-75 percent of the trees had received significant damage. City officials could not be reached for additional information regarding a cleanup timeline.

    In relation to the tornado that caused devastation in Moore, Okla., and the Joplin tornado that carved out a swath through the city two years ago today, the damage in Crawford County communities was minor, but Cramer said it is a good reminder.

    “The most important thing that people can do around here is just pay attention,” he said. “Understand where they’re at in relation to thunderstorms and have a plan to take shelter.”

    While anyone who has spent significant time in the Midwest during spring knows what they should do in a storm, Cramer reiterated the advice.

    “If you’re in your house, the key is to keep as many walls between you,” he said, adding that it is important to remain on the lowest level.

    “You want more of a small space because you have more wall per square area,” Cramer added, noting that many times the only surviving parts of houses after tornados are hallway closets or bathrooms.

    A press release from AAA also advised the following:

    – Keep emergency and first aid kits available, including a battery powered radio, extra batteries, food and water.

    – Prepare a disaster communications plan with your family members.

    – Learn your children’s school disaster dismissal policy.

    –Identify a safe shelter area in your home, away from windows.

    – Practice your shelter in a safe place plan with your family.

    – Know where your utility switches are located and how to turn off gas, water and electricity.  

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