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andyhb

May 4th, 2003 Tornado Outbreak

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Today is the tenth anniversary of one of the most significant tornado events of the 2000s and the most significant event of the record breaking May, 2003 outbreak sequence. The Ozarks (particularly around Springfield's CWA including portions of Eastern KS and Northeast OK), the Kansas City metro, and the Jackson, TN area were raked by multiple intense tornadoes, killing 38 people and injuring hundreds. The Girard, KS F4 tornado has been a strong candidate for an upgrade to F5 status since it was rated.

 

NWS Springfield, MO page on the outbreak: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/Events/2003/may4/

 

NWS Pleasant Hill, MO page on the outbreak: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/eax/?n=severe-may042003_pictures

 

NARR Reanalysis at 00z 5/5

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Upper Air Setup at 00z 5/5

250_030505_00.gif

 

1630z Convective Outlook

day1otlk_20030504_1630_prt.gif

 

Expanded eastward to include Western TN at the 01z outlook.

day1otlk_20030505_0100_prt.gif

 

Storm Reports

030504_rpts.gif

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Textbook set-up. My coworker was the (or one of the) warning forecaster during that event and if I'm not mistaken, he issued his first ever tornado warning in the NWS for the Girard tornado. He also was part of the survey team and has said that the Girard to Liberal tornado could have been rated F-5.

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I remember this well. We had large hail here in Joplin but the nearest tornado hit Carl Junction just north of the city. 

 

tor_tracks_may0403_newweb.jpg

 

 

Joplin Globe did a 10 years after special last Sunday in the paper.

 

The tiny town of Franklin, KS has rebuilt for the most part.

http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/x6218013/Franklin-rebuilds-after-2003-storm

 

Carl Junction has pretty much completely rebuilt.

http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/x2002133998/Little-evidence-remains-of-tornado-that-hit-Carl-Junction-in-2003

 

Pierce City, not so much. 

http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/x2002133995/Pierce-City-reinvents-itself-after-tornado

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Textbook set-up. My coworker was the (or one of the) warning forecaster during that event and if I'm not mistaken, he issued his first ever tornado warning in the NWS for the Girard tornado. He also was part of the survey team and has said that the Girard to Liberal tornado could have been rated F-5.

That tornado supposedly produced very intense ground and pavement scouring , cleanly swept away well-anchored homes, and threw vehicles hundreds of yards. Sounds textbook F5 to me. Any idea why they didn't upgrade it? A few pics, none of them clearly shows the possible F5 damage though. Might be some rather intense ground scouring in the last two, but it could be cleanup related.

photo9.jpg

photo23.JPG

050603%20014.jpg

051703%20049.jpg

051703%20053.jpg

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I remember this well. We had large hail here in Joplin but the nearest tornado hit Carl Junction just north of the city. 

 

tor_tracks_may0403_newweb.jpg

 

 

 

This storm really brought my weather fascination out. I lived in Missouri at the time, and the Stockton tornado was actually on a bee line for the area we lived in before lifting about 10 miles W and ultimately taking a N curve. Local news had some excellent coverage of the storm also.  

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That tornado supposedly produced very intense ground and pavement scouring , cleanly swept away well-anchored homes, and threw vehicles hundreds of yards. Sounds textbook F5 to me. Any idea why they didn't upgrade it? A few pics, none of them clearly shows the possible F5 damage though. Might be some rather intense ground scouring in the last two, but it could be cleanup related.

photo9.jpg

photo23.JPG

050603%20014.jpg

051703%20049.jpg

051703%20053.jpg

Turns out my coworker's first tornado warning was for the Pierce City F3. There's actually a story behind the Girard/Franklin tornado rating. The SGF MIC was on the survey team and decided the play it conservative and went with a high end F4 rating, though Tim Marshall, who was there as part of the Quick Response Team, said it could go either way for a F5 or F4 call on the ranking. Marshall then went up to the EAX CWA to check out the tornado damage up there, and according to my coworker it was felt the F4 rating near KC was pretty liberal, and Marshall told the SGF MIC that he'd be definitely justified to upgrade to an F5 for the Girard tornado. The MIC said he wouldn't change the rating based on how another office did their ratings so it stayed as an F4.

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Turns out my coworker's first tornado warning was for the Pierce City F3. There's actually a story behind the Girard/Franklin tornado rating. The SGF MIC was on the survey team and decided the play it conservative and went with a high end F4 rating, though Tim Marshall, who was there as part of the Quick Response Team, said it could go either way for a F5 or F4 call on the ranking. Marshall then went up to the EAX CWA to check out the tornado damage up there, and according to my coworker it was felt the F4 rating near KC was pretty liberal, and Marshall told the SGF MIC that he'd be definitely justified to upgrade to an F5 for the Girard tornado. The MIC said he wouldn't change the rating based on how another office did their ratings so it stayed as an F4.

 

SGF doing something foolish. What a surprise that is LOL

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I also hear that the Stockton and Camdenton, MO F3's were very close to F4 status. Based on the survey information, this appears to be the case.

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I also hear that the Stockton and Camdenton, MO F3's were very close to F4 status. Based on the survey information, this appears to be the case.

Camdenton was very tricky from what I understand. There was a well anchored house that was completely gone, yet the owner's vehicle remained parked in the driveway. I would actually agree with F3 in that case, as this would hint at a major structural flaw, (i.e no strapping maybe). I think there were a few other homes swept away as well, but I don't know how well built they were.

 

 

Also, great videos of the KC area tornado.

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Somewhere I have pictures of Camdenton and Buffalo areas, I will look if I have time later. Sent from my SCH-I535 2

My aunt and uncle lived on the outskirts of Camdenton at the time...they got some really good pics of the damage. I think they were in the hail core.

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The tornado starting in Kansas City, Kansas appears to have lifted and dropped several times. It did not create textbook F4 damage over a track, but got the rating based on a few structures. I lived in Wichita at the time. Packed up my gear ready for a storm chase. Target was SE Kansas. Little did I know I'm on-call at work so really can't go. Who knows if I would have seen Girard? I had checked the schedule and apparently looked at the wrong column. One last check before going: My heart drops to the floor as I realize I'm on-call during the biggest day of the year. I'm on regular shift starting the next day so I never had a chance to chase any day of this historic sequence. Thankfully my hard work was rewarded the next year. I'm lucky to have been on the May 12, 2004 Harper cell from inception to dark. OMG, what a great chase!

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You've got four not being shown (in Nebraska and South Dakota) ;)

 

Yes, there were a few small tornadoes up in Nebraska and South Dakota up near the low pressure center where the highest low level helicity was. Just small weak/ short lived tornadoes though.

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Turns out my coworker's first tornado warning was for the Pierce City F3. There's actually a story behind the Girard/Franklin tornado rating. The SGF MIC was on the survey team and decided the play it conservative and went with a high end F4 rating, though Tim Marshall, who was there as part of the Quick Response Team, said it could go either way for a F5 or F4 call on the ranking. Marshall then went up to the EAX CWA to check out the tornado damage up there, and according to my coworker it was felt the F4 rating near KC was pretty liberal, and Marshall told the SGF MIC that he'd be definitely justified to upgrade to an F5 for the Girard tornado. The MIC said he wouldn't change the rating based on how another office did their ratings so it stayed as an F4.

   Tim Marshall told me that he seen only one potential spot of F5 damage in the Girard, Kansas tornado. He said it was a house out in a rural area but he told me the house was poorly attached and therefore an F5 rating couldn't be given. I emailed him and asked him why the Girard tornado was not rated F5.

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