Supper the night of July 13, 2015 was different and exciting. We’d just sat down to eat and to watch KWCH/12 news on the television in the kitchen. It was a sunny and hot day, for most of the day anyway.
Late in the afternoon some small severe storms popped up and moved south through Rice County and the NW corner of Reno County. But it was still sunny on N. Monroe when we got ready for supper.
When the news came on Ross Janssen was already on the air and he said there was a tornado on the ground just north and west of Hutchinson. I could hardly believe it since it was sunny here, but since it was Ross I decided I had better look and see.
I left the breakfast bar, where we were filling our plates so we could eat, and walked around the corner into the living room and looked out the front window which looks out to the west.
I immediately yelled “ #@!!* @#!* come look at this!” It only took a few seconds for him to be by my side looking out the window.
The picture above is what we saw to the north and west of our house. The line of trees is at the back of a field. The field is about 1/4 mile deep and is on the west side of Monroe Street. Monroe is in front of our house and runs north and south. So the tornado looked like it was just across the street.
We watched it for about 5 minutes and then the siren finally went off in the neighborhood and my husband thought we should go to the basement. We were so busy watching the tornado we didn’t hear Ross say it was not moving in a normal pattern; but was moving North to South West.
While I was gathering up a few things my husband grabbed the camera and ran outside and started taking pictures. Not what you are supposed to do….. but that is where he was. When he came back in we went to the basement and turned on the television down there.
By the time we were finally in the basement Ross was saying the tornado was falling apart. It was only on the ground for 5 miles and only a few minutes. We figured out that it was about 6 miles from our house not a 1/4 mile. The debris cloud was really wide and it looked bigger and closer than it was.
In some of the pictures he took you can see it was a rope tornado which looked really small compared to the debris cloud around it. This one was the second closest one to come near Blue Spruce.
The Willow Brook tornado left the ground about 3 miles to the west of us south of 56th street. If it hadn’t raised up before it got to Mitchell church it would have come through the middle of Blue Spruce. That was a little to close for comfort.
I went to the basement that night and I heard it go over our house. It was up high enough that it didn’t do any real damage in our area. It removed a few shingles, some chimney caps went missing and some lightweight patio furniture found a new address. That was the main damage it caused in our neighborhood.
The Tornado of July 13 did level a cabin near Nickerson and destroyed trees. It blew away a garage sitting next to a house but left the house standing with only a little roof damage. The newly installed storm shelter, in a corner of the garage, was left standing and the couple inside the shelter was fine.
About an hour after the tornado fell apart we went out to check something in the yard and there was wheat chaff falling out of the sky. All the pieces were about 1 inch long and looked like they had been cut with scissors.
There were little pieces of the wheat chaff on the pickup, in the driveway and all over the yard and sidewalks. Since it was right after harvest the wheat chaff must not have had time to get worked into the ground and the tornado picked it up and threw it high into the sky and then it floated back down.
That was one exciting evening and when we finally got back to our now cold supper and we were glad the uninvited dinner guest decided not to visit our house. To contact Sandy: [email protected]