Kansas hit by more than month's worth of tornadoes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The National Weather Service says Kansas likely had more than a month's worth of tornadoes in this weekend's outbreak.

Mike Hudson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Kansas City, said Sunday that crews are assessing the hardest hit areas from the storms that hit Saturday and Sunday. They're trying to determine how many tornadoes were involved.

State officials reported widespread damage in Sedgwick and Rice counties, but no fatalities.

Hudson says there were 122 preliminary tornado reports in the region, with most occurring in Kansas, but some of those are likely multiple reports of the same tornado. He says statistics show Kansas averages 12 tornadoes in April.

Hudson says based on the early reports that it's likely there will have been more than 12 tornadoes in Kansas in this outbreak.

Gov. Sam Brownback says residents took storm warnings seriously as the heavy storms battered the state.

The weather system hit Sedgwick and Rice counties especially hard. One twister in Wichita caused damage at McConnell Air Force Base and at a Wichita mobile home park. Preliminary damage estimates could be as high as $283 million.

Jim Keeney, a meteorologist with the weather service, said Sunday that the tornado that hit Wichita late Saturday has been given a preliminary ranking of EF-3 based on damage there. Another tornado that hit Ellsworth County Saturday has been rated an EF-4.

Keeney said the ratings are preliminary, and final rankings will likely be available Monday.

The weather service says the EF Scale is used to assign a tornado a `rating' based on estimated wind speeds and damage. The tornado scale ranges from EF-1 to EF-5, which is the worst.

Brownback, who issued a declaration of disaster emergency early Sunday, said the state was fortunate to have escaped fatalities. He says residents responded to the storm warnings and took cover, and that preparation may have saved many lives.

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