National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

   Widespread Severe Weather May 24th 2011




What Happened:   A powerful upper level storm system brought widespread severe weather to the region during the afternoon and evening hours of Tuesday, May 24th 2011.

Background: The upper level system encountered a very unstable airmass across Kansas on the afternoon of May 24th 2011.  Thunderstorms developed rapidly over Oklahoma and Southwest Kansas by mid-afternoon then raced northeast into Central and South Central Kansas by around 4 pm.  The storms then spread eastward into Southeast Kansas during the evening hours. Tornadoes touched down in Central Kansas and caused some damage along with some sporadic large hail reports. The main severe weather hazard from this event was numerous reports of damaging and destructive winds.  Many locations across the region witnessed wind speeds of 80-100 mph which resulted in several reports of damage.






(Visible satellite image at 4:40pm showing the big thunderstorms over the Central Plains)


(Bowing storm produces 80mph winds in southeast Kansas)


  (Radar loop of severe storms moving across the region)






(Severe reports across the country for May 24th 2011)


Barton County Tornadoes



Two tornadoes touched down in Barton County during the severe weather outbreak.  Both tornadoes were rated as an EF1 tornado with a width of 75 yards.  The first tornado moved out of Stafford County into the far southern sections of Barton County for about 3.5 miles.  The second tornado touched down just north of Ellinwood and tracked to the northwest for about 5.2 miles. The third tornado touched down just north of Wilson and was briefly in contact with the ground before lifting.


Tornado Track Map


Tornado Damage and Storm Pictures from NW of Ellinwood







Southeast Kansas Damage from 80-100 mph Straight-line Winds south of Erie







90-100 mph straight-line wind damage east and northeast of Rose Hill
(images courtesy Butler County Emergency Management)