1974 Emporia tornado's cost: six dead, 200 injured, $25M in damage

It has been 42 years since Emporia's western edge was flattened by an F-4 tornado.


Six people died and over 200 were hurt by the Emporia twister, which moved northeast for almost 40 miles before dissipating near Auburn. The tornado caused about $25 million worth of damage in Lyon County alone. That would translate to over $120 million today.


The twister that hammered Flinthills Mall, Lincoln Village and other parts of what was then far western Emporia won't get the same attention as the 1966 Topeka tornado, simply because the Topeka twister's having its 50th anniversary Wednesday. However, the twister here became very important in the eyes of tornado researchers, including noted Fujita scale developer Ted Fujita.


{wbty_audio audio_id="16377" audio_title="Harding: Fujita used Emporia twister for famous scale"}


Research continues, and meteorologists continue to struggle to unlock the mystery of how tornadoes form. National Weather Service meteorologist Ken Harding says the large-scale ingredients are pretty well known now: Gulf moisture; wind shear, where winds come from different directions the higher up in the atmosphere you go; and a forcing mechanism like a cold front, dryline or outflow boundary from past thunderstorms. The focus now is on small-scale parameters, which now seem to be the key for whether a tornado develops or not.


{wbty_audio audio_id="16378" audio_title="Harding: Small-scale issues"} 


Harding says there was no lead time when the tornado touched down near the current Hostess production plant and Emporia was actually outside a tornado watch for the day.


Click here for a link to the National Weather Service information page about the 1974 Emporia tornado.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 11 April 2018 08:50

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