High winds hit Pratt County late Sunday into Monday morning earlier this week, but further investigation reveals that a tornado did indeed touch down near Byers as part of that storm system.
A small tornado has been identified as the source of damage in the Byers area early Monday morning on May 27.
Late Sunday, May 26 a squall line made its way across Pratt County and at 12:04 a.m. on Monday, May 27, went through Byers and the surrounding area traveling northeast, said Larry Ruthi, meteorologist for the Dodge City National Weather Service.
The storm rolled over an irrigation system just south of Byers then demolished a metal building in Byers before moving northeast out of town where it rolled another irrigation system just south of the Bill Moore residence. As the storm crossed the Moore property, it destroyed a tree and crushed a 24,000 bushel grain bin and damaged the doors on both ends of an large equipment shed, Moore said.
It also rolled a couple of fuel tanks over, said Moore who was not at home when the storm hit.
He and wife Landa returned home Monday to find a tree in the yard destroyed as well as the other damage. They also had a partial power outage. Moore contacted their electricity supplier and they discovered the on/off switch on an outside fuse box had been knocked to the off position by debris from the storm.
The damage to the grain bin included an auger system that fed other grain bins standing next to the damaged bin. The other bins were not damaged. And there was no damage to anything else at their residence, Moore said.
The storm then continued northeast and went through a shelter belt near the Kent Moore residence, causing damage to several trees. Ruthi said the storm then passed into Stafford County.
At first, this appeared to be a straight line wind event. The National Weather Service received reports of winds from 70 to 80 miles an hour associated with this squall line. Ruthi said the Weather Service had received a lot of high wind reports along the line.
But after reviewing all the storm damage, including some they were unaware of in the Byers area, Ruthi reviewed the squall line radar information from the night of the storm and identified a “nub” in the line at the same time it was going through Byers and the surrounding area. While the Weather Service radar was recording winds above ground level in the “nub” at 65 mph, he estimated the ground wind speed in the “nub” to be between 90 to 100 mph.
The combination of the narrow width of the damage, the radar signature and the other elements associated with storm, prompted Ruthi to say the damage was caused by a small tornado.