Last week when I was in Wichita, Kansas, for the TTT conference, my parents, sister and family living in Manhattan, Kansas, narrowly missed being hit by a large tornado. This YouTube video includes some scary sky cam footage of the twister hitting Manhattan on June 11th:

These photographs show some of the storm damage in Manhattan. Thankfully no one in Manhattan was killed, but people were killed in Chapman, Kansas as well as another community near Manhattan. (Soldier I think.) Thanks to my Dad for sharing these links.

This YouTube video shows damage in Chapman:

Those scenes remind me of Greensburg, Kansas, which was hit last spring by a F5 tornado and almost completely wiped off the map. I visited Greensburg in August 2007, four months after the tornado, and took some video footage that I have not yet published to the web. I need to find those files, edit them together and publish them.

Tornados are both terrifying and fascinating. At one time in my life, I actually aspired to be a meteorologist. I always wanted to photograph a tornado, and was able to do so in the summer of 1993 in Wichita. Ever since, I’ve been much less keen on being near one.

Severe storms continue across the midwest and Oklahoma specifically this evening. NOAA and the National Climatic Data Center have some historical graphs and charts on tornado frequency, and a table is available showing how many tornados we’ve seen in the United States so far this year. By all accounts I’ve heard, we’re having a banner year. :-(

Using the data from that NOAA website for the month of May, I created the following comparative graph using the free NCES graphing website:

US Tornados in May (comparison)

Good grief. The same table shows we had 10 “killer” tornados in May this year, compared to far fewer in the past few years. We’ve had 277 twisters in the month of June so far, and we’re just halfway through the month.

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