Kansas Tops in the Nation in Tornadoes in 2008

Source:  NOAA
Source: NOAA

For the second year in a row, Kansas tops the list for the state with the most tornadoes in 2008.  Kansas recorded a total of 187 tornadoes throughout 2008, far above second-place Texas which recorded 116 over the 12-month period.

The period of late May into June was particularly significant in the annual tally, with Kansas tallying hundreds of tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings throughout the state.

While Kansas may have topped the list in tornadoes for the year, a remarkably small number of fatalities were recorded.  The 187 tornadoes resulted in just 4 fatalities throughout the state in 2008.  Two were killed in a tornado that crossed a highway near Pratt, KS on Memorial day weekend.  A June 11th tornado that struck Chapman, KS killed one, and a fourth victim was killed when his mobile home was destroyed in another tornado that same day.

June 11th Outbreak

While no tornadoes of 2008 ranked as high on the scale as the devastating Greensburg tornado of 2007, significant tornadic damage was still suffered throughout the state in 200.  The single most significant day of the year in terms of damaging tornadoes in Kansas was June 11th.  One of the most damaging tornadoes of 2008 struck Manhattan, Kansas late that evening, tearing apart car dealerships and dormitories on the Kansas State University campus.

The Manhattan tornado was rated an EF-4 with top wind speeds around 170 mph according to the National Weather Service office out of Topeka. The tornado was around a quarter-mile wide and was on the ground for more than 8 miles.  Remarkably, this strongest tornado of the year for Kansas resulted in no fatalities or significant injuries.

Another tornado that evening struck Chapman, Kansas, destroying huge swaths of the town that are still struggling to rebuild.  While this tornado was rated lower on the scale (EF-3)  than the Manhattan tornado (EF-4) due to its slightly lower wind speed of 150 mph, this tornado was nearly twice as wide (1/2-mile) and resulted in one death and nearly a dozen serious injuries.

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