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Saturday, June 08, 2013

Topeka Tornado - June 8, 1966- 47th Anniversary

Forty-seven years ago at around 7 pm- a tornado touched down about 20 miles southwest of Topeka- KS..

Over the next 45 minutes- the funnel would grow to F-5 strength and slice a diagonal swath of destruction through Kansas' Capitol city.

Sixteen people died with more than 500 injured during those Wednesday evening winds of terror.

The TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL has an excellent slideshow of photographs of the during and after of what was then- the most destructive tornado in world history- doing around $100-million (1966 dollars) worth of damage. 

Friday, June 07, 2013

CSW BREAKING: Interstate 70 Now Open Both Directions West of I-435 in KC-MO

Announced at 11:37 pm by a KC-MO PD traffic unit and shown here with eastbound traffic moving.

Interstate 70 Still Closed East and Westbound West of I-435 in Kansas City MO

Workers are still cleaning up the mess left behind when a tanker truck crashed and caught fire before dawn Friday morning.

The incident happened on westbound I-70 just west of I-435.

Nobody was hurt.

I-70 remains closed Friday afternoon- and from these KC Scout traffic cam images- looks like the freeway will remain closed through at least Friday night.  

Westbound I-70 is being diverted north on northbound I-435 and eastbound I-70- a parking lot- is closed at Van Brunt.

I-435 is open except the westbound I-70 on-ramps.

Alternate routes are U.S. 40- 23rd Street- Truman Road and Winner Road/Independence Avenue.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Oklahoma City's KFOR TV In A Public Relations Disaster

I've been watching TV news for more than half a century and I've been working in the industry for more than two decades.

Never in all that time have I seen/heard a broadcaster act so irresponsibly as what was done on KFOR TV-4 during the Friday- May 31 tornado that struck near El Reno OK..

KFOR's "chief meteorologist" Mike Morgan told viewers/listeners that they would not survive the El Reno tornado if it continued the 25 miles east to Oklahoma City if people didn't have below ground shelter.

Mr. Morgan also told people to flee their homes "and drive south."

Over the next hour or so- tens of thousands of motorists created monsterous traffic jams on not only freeways- but other primary and secondary roadways going south out of OK City.

The vehicle gridlock would surely have meant hundreds of fatalities if the now EF-5 tornado would have continued on into OK City- rather- the big tornado lifted just west of Yukon OK- and two smaller tornadoes touched down in parts of south and southeast OK City.

Mr. Morgan's supporters state "it was rush hour."

Metro Kansas City- a million people bigger- has our evening "rush hour" pretty much over by 6:30 pm- about the time the first tornado began forming miles west-southwest of El Reno.

I've also read the man's supporters state "he saved thousands of lives."

I'd like to know how that was so on May 31?

The 2.6 mile-wide EF-5 tornado lifted before hitting any population centers and if it had not lifted and hit OK City- the gridlock on roadways with families in their cars would have almost assured a death toll in the hundreds.

Many of those hundreds dead in the cars probably would have survived in their residences getting to an interior room and covering up.

Two small tornadoes- and EF-0 and an EF-1 did strike south OK City but fortunately too missed the freeway parking lots.

Mike Morgan has received a lot of criticism for his words to evacuate and rightly so.

Doesn't KFOR know this is 2013 where many Americans can't think for themselves and take whatever the bright box with moving pictures tells them as gospel?

Many folks who heard Mr. Morgan say they were going to die if they didn't run figured he knew something they didn't- and many threw their proper tornado safety procedures out the window and jumped in their vehicles.

Mike Morgan has not been on KFOR TV since last Friday- critics and supporters both are wondering aloud on KFOR's Facebook page what has become of the man.

The station management has not issued any statements on the whole affair and with their silence- at least in my book- creates a serious credibility problem for KFOR TV-4.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A Capt. Spaulding Golden Cigar Goes to Yukon OK Police Officer Matthew Fairchild

Why you may ask?

Officer Fairchild is sitting in the patrol car next to where storm chaser/researcher Chris Novy unwittingly drove into a flooded drainage ditch in Yukon on May 31.

See the officer's own cellphone video of the aftermath.

As a side note- I have both called and emailed Yukon's Chief of Police Mr. John Corn encouraging a public commendation regarding Officer Fairchild's most selfless and heroic act!

I owe you a cup of coffee next time I'm in Yukon Officer Matt!

A 4th Storm Chaser Also Died in May 31 Oklahoma Tornado

This is according to a story in The Oklahoma City OKLAHOMAN.

Thirty-five year-old Richard Charles Henderson decided to join the ranks of storm chasers near El Reno on Friday- May 31.

Mr. Henderson sent a cellphone photo of the tornado to a friend.

It was that tornado that would suck Mr. Henderson from his pickup truck when the storm's tornadic circulation shifted under the - to 1-1/2-mile wide wall cloud.

The newpaper story stated that Mr. Henderson's body "was found near El Reno."

Richard Henderson left behind two sons.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Storm Chaser Nearly Drowns in May 31 Oklahoma Superstorm

In addition to the three storm chasers killed in the western Metro Oklahoma City tornado May 31- another storm chaser somehow escaped a sure drowning from the terrible flash flooding that occurred right after the twister.

The chaser posts his video (shown at the end of this story) of this dramatic event on You Tube.

The chaser- who posts as 'Modulate This' or 'MT' as we'll call him- was eastbound on OK-66 before it turns south on OK-4 highway in Yukon.

To avoid street flooding ahead- MT turns right instead of stopping and going in reverse.

The still images shown are a GOOGLE street view image of what the scene looks like on a clear- non-flood day and what it looked like to MT on that fateful Friday.

MT makes his right turn just past the sign and guardrail where the unguarded lip of the drainage ditch lies about a dozen feet south of the edge of the roadway.

MT drives too far forward at that spot and his vehicle slips off the edge of the culvert that runs north under OK-66.

MT's vehicle is quickly submerged in 8 to 10 feet of rushing water.

It is only by fate- luck- and/or the Grace of God that MT is not drowned- but as he reports on YouTube- his vehicle's windows broke out underwater and he was able to surface and swim.

The police officer (Yukon Officer Matthew Fairchild- see CSW post HERE) who you see in the video sitting just west of the culvert saw what happened and immediately rushes to the north end of the culvert and helps MT from the swollen ditch.

Otherwise- our friend MT most surely would have become chaser fatality No. 4.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Storm Chasers Reportedly Among The Dead From May 31st's El Reno to Oklahoma City Tornado

A Web site called "TheWeatherspace.Com" is reporting three storm chasers died in Friday's EF-3 tornado that tracked from El Reno into parts of Oklahoma City.

The site says that the chasers were "Tim Samaras- his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young" were among the nine people that died in the tornado.

This was being confirmed on other Internet sites- as well as a posting on Facebook by Tim's brother Jim Samaras.

The other six tornado deaths- including a mother and her infant- were also in vehicles.

At least two other people died in the flash flooding that the storms produced in those same areas.

As of Sunday morning- there were up to four people still missing.

I believe this will be among- if not the first storm chasers killed by a tornado.

Other CSW posts regarding this May 31, 2013 tornado can be linked to HERE and HERE.