A tornado struck the north part of Quivira during the evening of 14 April 2012. Scattered but significant damage occurred to trees, power lines (along township roads), windmills, and fences. The storm affected the Bald Eagle nest located south of Big Salt Marsh.
Two storm systems, each packing tornado activity, passed through Stafford County during Saturday, 14 April. The first storm entered Stafford County south of Macksville just before 4 pm. A trained spotter reported a tornado 5 miles west of Hudson at 4:25 pm. The main body of this storm passed just northwest of Big Salt Marsh. Damage at Quivira resulting from this storm is unknown, but believed to have been minimal.
The second storm entered Stafford County around 9:00 pm, being reported as a tornado 1 mile north of St. John at 9:21 pm, and then 6 miles northeast of Hudson at 9:35 pm. It exited the county at about 9:44 pm.
An additional line of storms moved through the same areas near midnight, but these apparently had no tornadoes associated with them.
The west side of the storm entered Quivira along the NE 140th Street blacktop at the "Scenic Overlook" interpretive pulloff. From there, the storm coursed directly ENE across Big Salt Marsh, exiting it about 1/2 south of the start of the Wildlife Drive. It then moved through mostly treeless landscape until north of NE 170th Street (also known as Marsh Road), then went directly through the northeast corner of the Refuge.
Significantly, there was a gap in the area of damage to the east, then another, narrower band of damage paralleling the first through the Refuge. Although difficult to determine, it is believed this that the tornado was wide enough that areas in the center (or "eye") of the tornado sustained less damage. Separated by 1/2 mile to a mile, this narrower damage area appeared to have entered Quivira about a mile east of the first, coursing northeast to cross NE 140th Avenue (also known as Hunter Access Road) about two miles north of the blacktop. It tracked northeast from there and exited Quivira about 1/4 mile north of the intersection of NE 140th St (Marsh Rd) and Salt Marsh Road on the Stafford/Rice County line.
Click here to see a map of the Tornado track through Quivira
Here is the report, posted 18 April 2012, on the National Weather Service's Dodge City website:
SAINT JOHN TORNADO (EF3)As the previous tornado was dissipating northeast of Macksville, a third and even larger tornado was developing just east-southeast of town at approximately 910 PM.. This tornado grew very rapidly as it traveled northeast. Thankfully it passed just northwest of St. John and just south of Hudson before it moved over the Great Salt Marsh at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and moved into Rice county at 945 PM. The tornado continued northeast narrowly missing Raymond and dissipated west of Lyons. The tornado had a total path length from start to finish of 42 miles and had a maximum width of an astonishing 1.5 miles! This tornado was rated as a low end EF3 on the EF scale with winds perhaps as strong as 140 MPH.
A large (1/2 or so wide) path of tree and power line damage began with the entry of the larger storm track. Many of the trees just west, and some about 1/4 mile east, of the Scenic Overlook were destroyed. The next significant damage occurred to a stand of cottonwoods on the east side of the Wildlife Drive, about 1/2 mile from the start of the Drive. Next, the storm affected another large stand of cottonwoods directly north of the intersection of NE 170th Street and NE 140th Avenue. An oil company truck, which had been parked south of the Scenic Overlook, was severely damaged, and portions of the truck ended up on the Refuge.
Damage along NE 140th Avenue, north of the 140th Street blacktop
A narrower band of damage, suggesting the eastern "half" of the storm, began about 1/4 mile east of the "Artesian Well" pulloff along NE 140th Street, tracking northeast. Some scattered cottonwoods were destroyed or damaged in a grove about a mile north of the blacktop. The most significant damage was where the storm came across NE 140th Avenue, just north of the Rattlesnake Creek bridge. More than a dozen large trees were felled, several across the road itself. From there, the track continued to the northeast, taking out or damaging trees in a large shelter belt south of NE 170th, blowing over some oil tanks, then damaging a small grove of trees to the northeast right on the county line. At least two windmills were damaged.
Trees just west of Scenic Overlook
A Bald Eagle nest, first built in 2009, is located between the two main areas of damage, just north of the NE 140th Street blacktop at the "Artesian Well" pulloff. Judging by the storm damage both east and west of the nest, it is possible that the main body of the tornado passed directly over the nest. The tree row containing the nest sustained noticeable damage in lost limbs. The nest itself was damaged, with a portion of it having been blown off. The status of the nest, which was believed to have contained newly hatched eaglets, is uncertain. An assessment of the nest condition reveals it is likely the young did not survive. At least one adult remained near the nest on 18 April, but was not tending young birds.
Bald Eagle nest trees
Although some local areas in Stafford and adjacent counties reported significant rainfall, Quivira received very little from any of the storm events.
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The tallest North American bird, and one of the rarest: now numbering about 600 in the world, there were once as few as 16.