Above-normal season continues; 99 of 126 tornado reports from Kansas

A powerful storm system moved across the US Midwest at the weekend bringing baseball-sized hail, heavy rain, high winds and tornadoes to the region.

Six states were affected but the majority of tornado reports emanated from sparsely populated parts of rural parts of Kansas, followed by Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Significant tornado damage has been reported in Woodward, Oklahoma, where there were six fatalities. There was damage to 89 homes and 13 businesses, predominantly in the west of the city, according to reports. A lightning strike affected the tornado notification system, when damage to a tower occurred.

In Kansas, storm damage has been reported in the city of Wichita, Sedgwick County, flooding in the downtown area and limited damage in an industrial area on the city’s south side (believed to be a result of a tornado).

A tornado also damaged the McConnell Air Force Base and the Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing plants in Wichita. Damage from this, plus the toppling of a 65 foot Ferris wheel at an amusement park is likely to drive the majority of losses from this event.

To date, seasonal activity in 2012 is slightly higher than normal. However, AIR has noted that a single strong event often offsets the annual total level of activity from the normal level.

The current NOAA forecast is calling for a period of quieter activity, which could revert the current anomaly back to near normal levels.

“This weekend’s outbreak of storms is typical for this time of year in the central and Midwestern United States,” said AIR Worldwide principal scientist Dr Tim Doggett. “In addition to tornadoes, strong straight-line winds, heavy rain, and large hail were observed across the affected region. The largest hail associated with the system, 4.5 inches in diameter, was reported in Randolph, Kansas.”