It was 25 years ago today, March 13th 1990, that a devastating tornado tore through the Kansas community of Hesston.
According to the National Weather Service, the devastating tornado has been labeled the “Hesston Tornado” even though it’s inception began just to the north of Pretty Prairie in Reno County.
The tornado entered Harvey County 8 miles southwest of Burrton. In Burrton, a six year old boy was killed as he huddled with his family. The chimney had toppled into the basement where he and his family were hiding for safety.
In Hesston the tornado grew in strength and was eventually rated an F5(261-318mph) as 226 homes and 21 businesses were damaged or destroyed in the western sections of town. About 90 homes were destroyed “beyond repair” and 30 were totally destroyed.
After wreaking havoc in Hesston, and causing nearly 25 million dollars in damage across Harvey County alone, the tornado continued to move northeast before merging with another tornado.
Surprisingly, for as strong and violent as this tornado was, there were only two fatalities and 60 injuries. Checks from a plumbing and heating supply store in Hesston were found 85 miles to the northeast in Manhattan, and a personal check was carried 115 miles to the northeast near the Pottawatomie County community of Blaine.
After wreaking havoc in Hesston, and causing nearly 25 million dollars in damage across Harvey County alone, the tornado started to weaken as it passed into McPherson County. However, as it weakened another tornado developed and traveled nearly parallel to the dissipating “Hesston Tornado”. The two tornadoes eventually combined into one large tornado and continued into Marion County where it killed an elderly women near Goessel. This tornado was also rated an F5 on the Fujita Scale.