More than 30 tornadoes – some of them massive – were reported in three states Thursday, including nearly a dozen in western Kansas.
No injuries were reported in connection with tornadoes, but authorities said a 63-year-old woman who lives in rural Butler County was seriously injured in a weather-related crash on U.S. 54 east of El Dorado during heavy rain just before 1:45 p.m. Thursday.
Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy said Cathleen Wilson apparently lost sight of the lane markings as she was traveling west on U.S. 54 and drifted into the eastbound lane, where her car was struck by an eastbound semi. Wilson was taken to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis in Wichita, where she is in serious condition.
Eleven tornadoes were reported in rural sections of western Kansas Thursday afternoon, including one seven miles east-southeast of Kendall that was described by witnesses to be a mile wide. No damage was initially reported with this huge tornado, because it remained in sparsely populated areas. Another wedge-shaped tornado was reported west of Friend in Finney County, and witnesses say it may have had a satellite tornado rotating around it at one point.
A tornado struck a farmstead four miles south of Scott City Thursday evening, authorities said, damaging a barn and several grain bins. Two bins were totally destroyed and the barn partially collapsed, with a section of the roof torn off. Trees and powerlines on the farmstead were knocked down.
Baseball-sized hail was reported five miles west of Lakin in Kearny County, and large hail broke windows in Stanton County as well.
At least some of the 32 tornado reports collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center figure to be multiple reports of the same tornado, so the actual number of tornadoes that touched down Thursday figures to be less than the total reported.
But Thursday will nonetheless rank as the busiest day of the year so far in what has been a remarkably quiet tornado season. Only 79 tornadoes had been reported throughout the entire country as of April 15, according to the Storm Prediction Center.