Author: Mary Knapp

The majority of tornadoes in the Kansas City area have been classified as weak to moderate tornadoes. Less than 20 percent of those storms in the Kansas City area and the surrounding area have experienced significant tornadoes. May 20th marks the 60th anniversary of the worst of those significant tornadoes: The Ruskin Heights tornado. In 1957 the tornado touched down to the southwest of Kansas City and traveled a distance of 71 miles. It was rated an F5. The storm first touched down near Williamsburg, KS. It continued to the northeast, where it tore through a stretch of southeastern Kansas City, crossing into Missouri and through the areas known as Ruskin Heights and Hickman Mills. The destruction was nearly total along that path. The tornado killed 45 people and left hundreds homeless. It remains the worst weather disaster on record for Kansas City.

Photo of tornado taken from the airport near Ottawa, Kansas at approximately 6:30 pm LST. Photo courtesy of Dr. Charles Doswell, CIMMS/University of Oklahoma. Photographed by Charles LeMaster.

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library