Emergency officials are assessing the damage in Kansas after a massive tornado rolled across the north-central part of the state, destroying at least two dozen homes. So far, no fatalities have been reported. Kansas Public Radio's J. Schafer has more.
The tornado was nearly a half-mile wide at times and it remained on the ground for nearly 90 minutes as it churned near the towns of Solomon, Chapman and Abilene. The twister cut a path 28 miles long and crossed Interstate 70, the main east-west highway across Kansas. This was a relatively slow-moving tornado (just 15 to 20 MPH), which gave most residents plenty of time to take shelter. Even so, a number of homes, vehicles and railroad tracks were destroyed. A Red Cross shelter has been set up in Abilene. This tornado comes on the heels of another massive twister, one that touched down near Dodge City the day before. For NPR News, I'm J. Schafer, in Lawrence, Kansas.
National Weather Service: Twister Just Missed Kansas Town
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service says a large tornado in Kansas that was on the ground for nearly an hour and a half missed a small town by about a mile. Meteorologist Chad Omitt says the tornado formed just after 7 p.m. near the Ottawa County community of Niles. He says it stayed on the ground continuously as it moved into Dickinson County. Omitt says it looks like "the heart" of the tornado was just about a mile south of the town of Chapman at one point. He says estimates are that the twister was a quarter- to a half-mile wide at times. Radar suggests the tornado dissipated around 8:35 p.m. Authorities are assessing damage, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. Weather service crews will survey the area tomorrow.
The Kansas Highway Patrol says about 20 homes have been damaged but there are no immediate reports of injuries after a tornado touched down outside the small town of Chapman. Trooper Ben Gardner, a spokesman for the patrol, says troopers were checking a rural area in Dickinson County where it is believed 20 homes were damaged Wednesday night, some significantly. Gardner says troopers are going from home to home to make sure everyone is OK but there were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities. The National Weather Service had warned people to take cover as what it called a "catastrophic" tornado approached Chapman, about 75 miles west of Topeka. Gardner says it appears the storm traveled south of the town.