After conducting a second survey, state meteorologists and the National Weather Service of Topeka determined that Manhattan did experience a tornado last Saturday east of K-states campus. After previously reporting the storm only produced straight line winds locally. The National Weather Service's of Topeka office announced on Thursday last week that an EF2 tornado with estimated peak winds of 115 miles per hour hit at 7:20pm on Saturday, June 11 2022. Officials who made the declaration after additional analysis and surveying described it as a small brief tornado with a path of 0.30 miles in the McCain neighborhood. Russell Stukey, the Director of Emergency Management and Riley county spoke with Wildcat 91.9 about the extent of the damage.
"The most recent updated assessment is just shy of $12 million and the upper $11 million range of damage and that is real estate type damage. So that wouldn't count any vehicles or personal property. It does count mobile homes but it doesn't count things such as trampolines blown out of the yard or other you know non-real estate type things. It includes houses, trees, mobile homes and structures basically" said Stukey.
But the amount of damage wasn't discovered until after Chris Craven a meteorologist from the National Weather Service joined Russell Stukey on analyzing other parts of Manhattan.
"She took pictures and took GPS locations and then she goes back uploaded to the National Weather Service their program that they use to assess damage and estimate winds then that's where their initial she said you know, I can't really rule out a tornado we didn't see when we walked around the the typical you know, twisted trees everything for the most part we saw was blown. In one direction. And so that's why I think their initial was straight line winds but then they came back I think a team of three from the speaker Weather Service office re-walk those areas reanalyzed some things and went back to the office and reanalyzed the radar recordings and came to the conclusion you know, we think there was a little smaller, short lived tornado in that area" said Stukey.
Short lived and yet over 60 properties sustained major damage and three homes were destroyed, making this the worst storm damage to hit Manhattan since 2008.
After an in-person assessment and further analysis of radar data, the National Weather Service of Topeka determined that the storm damage that Riley County residents experienced on June 11th was caused by straight line winds and a small EF2 Tornado North east of K-States campus. Some areas of Manhattan experienced much worse straight line wind speeds than others. The hardest hit areas saw 115 mph winds which is the equivalent of wind speeds caused by EF2 tornadoes without the rotation.
Some homes on these once-leafy streets were left without any trees at all.
Regardless of the straight line winds and strong gusts that lasted for hours after the first sirens blared, the sun still rose Sunday morning and crews across Manhattan continued to try to re-establish power, cable, and internet services for many Manhattan residents.
For 20-year Fremont Street homeowners such as Bill Springer, however, watching an old-growth tree calve off a large branch in his front yard onto the sidewalk is not nearly as scary as the one that has yet to fall on his pink Victorian home. Wildcat 91.9 encountered Springer assessing a fresh crack running the length of a tall shade tree in his side yard closer to his home.
"In 2001 or 2002, the other side of this tree came down on this side of our house. Since then, we've tried to have it taken out, but I know the insurance has told us that the tree is still stable, is still fine," Springer said.
After Saturday's storm, the new jagged split appears even more defined. Because the side-yard tree seems to be leaning away from his house and toward local power lines, Springer is convinced the tree must come down before his neighbors experience a power outage after the next storm--or he has to repair part of his roof again. Either way, Springer is on the case. "Hopefully, this will change their minds."
Hot off the presses from the K-State Alumni Association magazine, K-Stater!