National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

 The Hesston Tornado

March 13th 1990



This devastating tornado has been labeled the "Hesston Tornado" even though it's inception began just to the north of Pretty Prairie in Reno County. The tornado entered Harvey County 8 miles southwest of Burrton. In Burrton, a six year old boy was killed as he huddled with his family. The chimney had toppled into the basement where he and his family were hiding for safety. In Hesston the tornado grew in strength and was eventually rated an F5(261-318mph) as 226 homes and 21 businesses were damaged or destroyed in the western sections of town. About 90 homes were destroyed "beyond repair" and 30 were totally destroyed. After wreaking havoc in Hesston, and causing nearly 25 million dollars in damage across Harvey County alone, the tornado continued to move northeast before merging with another tornado. Surprisingly, for as strong and violent as this tornado was, there were only two fatalities and 60 injuries. Checks from a plumbing and heating supply store in Hesston were found 85 miles to the northeast in Manhattan, and a personal check was carried 115 miles to the northeast near the Pottawatomie County community of Blaine.

After wreaking havoc in Hesston, and causing nearly 25 million dollars in damage across Harvey County alone, the tornado started to weaken as it passed into McPherson County. However, as it weakened another tornado developed and traveled nearly parallel to the dissipating "Hesston Tornado". The two tornadoes eventually combined into one large tornado and continued into Marion County where it killed an elderly women near Goessel. This tornado was also rated an F5 on the Fujita Scale.


Tornado Informatione

Outbreak info Map


Map of tornadoes that occurred during the March 13th 1990 tornado outbreak.

Two tornadoes combine in to one large tornado  northeast of Hesston


Track map of two tornadoes combining in to one large tornado

Hesston tornado track map

Click on image above for a listing of tornado reports across the area for March 13th 1990





Video of the tornado as it approaches Hesston

The most infamous Hesston video, showing the violent tornado tearing through town. Video shot by Dean Allison.

Another video showing the tornado making its way through town.

Video showing the extent of the damage.

Video of the tornado after it struck Hesston.

Audio from KFDI's coverage.








Additional Information

NWS meteorologist perspective

Storm chaser/meteorologist perspective

Meteorological Review of the Hesston Tornado


 Map of tornadoes. Provided by Jon Finch 


Surface map. Created by Jon Finch 

700mb map created by Jon Finch 

500mb map created by Jon Finch.  

Much of the information came from the book, "Year of the Storms - The Destructive Kansas Weather of 1990"