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Overview: July 7th, 2016 Tornadoes

The combination of weak surface low pressure in south central Kansas and an outflow boundary oriented from west to east across central and eastern Kansas led to the development of thunderstorms on the evening of July 7th, 2016. Given recent heavy rains, ample daytime heating allowed dew point temperatures to reach the mid to upper 70s. These very moist low levels worked in concert with modestly steep mid-level lapse rates to allow an extremely unstable atmosphere, characterized by 6000+ J/kg of surface based CAPE, to develop. The extreme instability was also met with 40-50 knots of effective bulk shear and decent directional shear with height, as shortwave energy gradually clipped the region from the north. With all of the ingredients necessary for severe storms, by the late afternoon and early evening hours a cumulus field had developed and was oriented from west to east across the state along the residual outflow boundary. As convergence continued to increase along this boundary, multiple thunderstorms began to erupt around the Chase, Lyon, Greenwood county borders. One dominant right moving supercell began to take over as it dropped southeast across Greenwood county producing multiple tornadoes. The strongest tornado developed northwest of Eureka, where high-end EF-3 damage was found. As the storm cycled and continued to move towards Eureka, an EF-2 tornado developed on the northwest side of the city and moved southeast across the city before dissipating. There were also brief touchdowns in far southeast Chase county and northwest Wilson county.



Photo of the tornado illuminated by cloud-to-ground lightning as it moved across Eureka, Kansas. Photo courtesy of Jason Keller via Twitter


Base reflectivity and storm relative velocity showing multiple tornado touchdowns across Greenwood County, including the tornado that devastated parts of Eureka, Kansas.



Reflectivity loop showing rotation about the surface low pressure anchored in south central Kansas on the evening of July 7th, 2016.


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