Extreme weather strikes again
By Susan Thacker 530News –
The lights are still on as I write this, but everyone in Great Bend is hunkering down in anticipation of an ice storm. By the time this issue of 530 News arrives in your mailbox, we expect the return of sunny days with temperatures in the 50s.
Probably the worst storm ever to hit Great Bend was the tornado on Nov. 10, 1915. The Colorado Transcript printed a report with headline: 8 Dead, 100 Hurt in Kansas Storm; Half of Great Bend Demolished — Many Entombed Alive in the Debris. Fire adds to horror; Property loss estimated at $500,000 …
It reported that half of the town was demolished and several thousand sheep were killed, “the animals being hurled into the air as the cyclone struck their feeding pens,” during the storm that swept through town at 7:30 on a Wednesday night.
Santa Fe passenger train No. 5 narrowly escaped the path of the twister, which first struck the Riverside steam laundry near Arkansas River bridge.
Many of those injured were caught beneath their homes, which were picked up from their foundations and twisted into debris. The city water plant was demolished, so when damaged homes caught fire they burned to the ground. More than 40 people were being attended to at St. Rose Hospital and physicians from surrounding towns were summoned.
High winds, rain and snow swept over Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas that night. Four persons were injured at Hartford, S.D., which was visited twice by the same tornado. Buildings were destroyed at Clafin, Hoisington and Larned.
The Nov. 10, 1915 tornados don’t quite make the “Top 10 Weather Events for the 20th Century for Central, South Central and Southeast Kansas,” as ranked by the National Weather Service, but they are included as an honorable mention. The information was compiled by Richard Elder, Chance Hayes and Eric Schminke of the Wichita National Weather Service Forecast Office in 1999.
Central Kansas has also endured floods, the Dust Bowl and blizzards. Great Bend and Hoisington had floods in June of 1981.
An exhibit at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center notes, “On the prairie, a day that dawns a balmy 60 degrees may plunge below zero with driving snow by nightfall. The blizzards of 1885-1886, among the state’s deadliest, brought temperatures of -25 degrees F, heavy snow, and high winds that killed an estimated 100 people and devastated the region’s cattle industry.”
Susan Thacker is the news editor at the Great Bend Tribune and writes “Life on the Ark” for 530 News. Send email to email@example.com.