The National Weather Service in Tulsa, Oklahoma says the EF2 tornado that killed one person in Quapaw earlier this week started at 5:29 p.m. Sunday, April 27 about 3 miles southwest of Quapaw. The tornado packing maximum wind speeds of 115 to 130 mph traveled more than 11 miles and crossed the Kansas border to Baxter Springs before it ended at 5:42 p.m. The tornado had a maximum width of 325 yards.
A Baxter Springs, Kan., man was killed in Quapaw when he and his wife pulled over into a parking lot and concrete wall fell on the car. At least 36 other people sustained injuries in Quapaw and Baxter Springs.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin toured tornado-ravaged Quapaw on April 28, telling residents the state has issued an emergency declaration to kick-start cleanup and rebuilding efforts.
Quapaw Police Chief Gary Graham said about 60 structures sustained some damage. Authorities said the tornado that hit Quapaw, a town of about 900 residents, was a “bit of a strange anomaly” with the governor noting that tornado warnings had been not been issued at the time.
After hitting Quapaw, the twister continued north into Kansas and struck Baxter Springs, about 5 miles away. Cherokee County, Kan., emergency manager Jason Allison said 60 to 70 homes and 20 to 25 businesses were destroyed. No deaths were reported in Baxter Springs.
Bill Davis, a meteorologist in Springfield, Mo., said tornado sirens didn’t sound in Baxter Springs until right before the twister hit the town because of how quickly it formed.
“That’s what happened in Quapaw, too,” Davis said. “It’s that worst-case scenario where a tornado forms right in a populated area. It was within a minute of the warning.”
“That thing formed so rapidly,” Davis said. “We looked at one scan when that thing started, and it already had gone through Quapaw.”
The Kansas portion of the tornado was also rated EF2 based on damage.