KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A major tornado had not significantly impacted the Kansas City metropolitan area since May 20, 1957 when an F-5 ripped through Ruskin Heights, killing 44 people and injuring 531.
This all changed 10 years ago on May 4, 2003 as the setup was there for a tornado outbreak across eastern Kansas and western Missouri.
The following are the reports from the National Weather Service:
"A series of four tornadoes was evident from both ground and air surveys across the Kansas City metropolitan area, from the supercell thunderstorm which tracked east-northeast across the western and northern sections of the metropolitan region.
The first of these tornadoes touched down in southern Leavenworth County, at around 3:54 p.m., northwest of Linwood and south of the Kansas Turnpike, near 198th and Wood Ann. Video shows the tornado crossed the Kansas Turnpike east of the Eastern Toll Booth, and then proceeded northeast to where it lifted south of Basehor around 4:12 p.m. Total track length was six miles, with a width approaching 200 yards at times. The tornado was given a maximum Fujita intensity rating of F2. This maximum damage was noted to homes near and just northeast of the intersection of 166th and Kansas Road.
The second tornado touched down just north-northwest of the Kansas Speedway at approximately 4:18 p.m. This tornado initially produced F0 to F1 damage, but it did produce an area of F3 damage to two homes, just south of Parallel Parkway near Interstate 435. The tornado grew in width to near 500 yards in Kansas City, Kansas, where instances of marginal F4 damage were noted around 91st and Leavenworth Road. The tornado continued to produce F2 to F3 damage northeast to near 84th Terrace north of Leavenworth Road. The latter location was where one fatality was observed. The tornado continued northeast through Wyandotte County, where another instance of marginal F4 damage was noted near 79th Street and Cernech. Considerable structural damage was noted in this location, along with four 150 foot-tall metal power poles engineered to withstand maximum winds of over 200 mph. The tornado proceeded to produce F1 to occasional F2 damage up to the Missouri River. Based on air surveys, the tornado passed just north of the power plant in northeast Wyandotte County, skirted along the Missouri River inflicting F0 tree damage on both the Wyandotte and Platte County sides of the river, and eventually crossed east into Platte County near Riverside and Parkville around 4:30 p.m. The tornado continued east, but with a smaller damage path through commercial areas near Highway 9. The tornado crossed Interstate 635 near mile marker 11.8, and it produced F1 damage east of this point until the tornado apparently dissipated around 4:42 p.m. Total track length of this tornado was near 15 miles.
The third tornado touched down in Gladstone, Missouri, apparently from a new circulation which
formed to the northeast of the one which produced the second tornado, around 4:45 p.m., around the area of Shady Lane and Antioch. Tree and roof damage accounted for F0 to F1 damage in this area. The tornado quickly intensified, and damage of marginal F4 intensity was noted approximate one mile northeast of this area, near the intersection of NE 63rd Terrace and North Jackson. Another small area of marginal F4 intensity was noted just northeast of this location, in the Carriage Hills subdivision, just south of Pleasant Valley Road near North Brighton. Areas of F1 to F3 intensity damage were noted around these specific neighborhoods in the Carriage Hills subdivision. The tornado continued northeast, based on air surveys, to just shy of Interstate 435 before dissipating shortly before 5:00 p.m.
The fourth and final tornado in the series that moved through the metropolitan area touched down in the Liberty area. Air surveys indicated spotty damage from Missouri Route 291, south of Missouri Route 152, northeast to near downtown Liberty. Substantial damage was noted near the square in Liberty, and to William Jewell College. The tornado tracked east along Missouri Route H into rural portions of Clay County east of Liberty, before the tornado apparently dissipated around 5:15 p.m. Maximum intensity damage noted in this area was F2, based on air survey and input from local emergency management."
Tornadoes cause destruction in seconds and change lives forever.