Mammoth Tornado Appears to Spare Small Kansas Town of Chapman

IMAGE: Dickinson County, Kansas, tornado
A half-mile-wide tornado skirted barely south of Chapman, Kansas, on Wednesday night.Kansas State Patrol

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Alex Johnson

Multiple homes were damaged and railroad tracks were destroyed Wednesday night when a large tornado swept across central Kansas, authorities said, but no injuries were immediately reported.

The tornado, described as a half-mile-wide wedge, struck several farmhouses in Dickinson County and just barely skirted south of Chapman, a town of about 1,400, the State Patrol said Wednesday night.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency alert — a rare advisory even more serious than a tornado warning — as the storm headed for Chapman earlier in the evening. The NWS warned residents that their lives were in immediate danger.

"Those things are incredibly violent," said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel. Fortunately, the tornado skewed off in an unexpected direction and passed just a few thousand yards south of the town.

The extent of the damage south of Chapman wasn't immediately clear, but the National Weather Service confirmed that railroad tracks near the town were ripped out of the ground.

Violent spring storms have been dropping in on the Plains states all week. About the same time Tuesday night, a similarly large and violent tornado critically injured two people in Dodge City, Kansas.

Sarsalari said Wednesday night that similar conditions are expected in the region at least until the weekend.