Two small tornadoes rip at Kansas City area

Friday, May 2, 2008 | 9:47 a.m. CDT; updated 6:03 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Homes damaged by severe thunderstorms are viewed from the air over Gladstone, Mo., today. Two small tornadoes from an overnight line of thunderstorms left hundreds of Kansas City-area homes and businesses damaged, destroying some.

GLADSTONE — Two small tornadoes from an overnight line of thunderstorms left hundreds of Kansas City-area homes and businesses damaged, destroying some.

The National Weather Service said a high-end EF2 tornado — with wind speeds between 111-135 mph — hit around 2 a.m. Friday, cutting a 75-foot-wide swath along a roughly two-mile stretch of north Kansas City near Liberty.

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Investigators determined a second tornado hit a little farther south in Gladstone around the same time, though they’ve yet to classify the size of the twister. Teams were also on the ground in Independence to determine if damage there was caused by a third tornado spawned on the leading edge of what the weather service has characterized as a bow echo.

“It’s not atypical for small tornadoes to spin up out of these types of storms,” said Suzanne Fortin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

No serious injuries have been reported. About 23,000 customers were without power across the metro area as of midmorning Friday, Kansas City Power & Light reported. At the peak of the storm, about 40,000 lost power.

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser said 100 homes suffered significant damage in the city alone. Gladstone Mayor Mark Revenaugh said as many as 200 homes were damaged in his suburb, and 20 were destroyed. The National Weather Service also reported damage in Independence and Riverside.

Officials said several people were injured, but none seriously.

“Only a couple of people hurt — not bad — a couple of stitches,” Funkhouser said.

In northeast Kansas City, trees were knocked from their roots and were lying along the roads and in ditches. Dozens of homes had chunks of roof missing. Some fences were toppled. Police blocked off roads surrounding the damaged neighborhoods Friday.

Gladstone City Hall was without power and calls were being rerouted to other city offices, city spokesman Sgt. Richard King said.

The city of 27,500 residents never set off warning sirens, King said, because it didn’t receive any reports from the National Weather Service of tornado sightings when the storm hit at 2 a.m. King said Gladstone would review its warning system.

An 18-wheeler was blown over on Interstate 29 in Riverside, near five empty train cars that were toppled. Winds reached 80 mph in the Kansas City area, the National Weather Service said.

Julie Adolphson, meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service office in Mount Pleasant, said an initial line of isolated storms came through the Kansas City area between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, producing several tornado warnings and setting off sirens across the area.

A second line of storms came through between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Friday, producing a bow echo, a type of severe thunderstorm that sometimes produces small tornadoes but more typically involves damaging straight-line winds, Adolphson said.

Tornado warnings were posted in southwest Missouri overnight. The town of Ava reported several buildings were damaged or destroyed, including a school. Ozark schools were closed because of a power outage.

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