Pratt, KS Tornado, May 1965

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TORNADO HITS PRATT AREA; TWISTER DESTROYS FACTORY.

Pratt, Kan. (AP) -- Tornado funnels dipped down out of thunder clouds over a wide belt of central Kansas Tuesday evening, inflicting considerable damage around Pratt on the south and Smith Center on the north.
The R. & R. Tank Co. estimated its loss was $200,000 when a twister destroyed its plant -- the old No. 1 Hangar at Pratt's Municipal Airport.
About half the No. 2 hanger at the World War II bomber base was blown down.
Pratt police, men from the sheriff's office and agents of the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission, tracked the twister from the time it touched down at 6:35 p.m. just north of U.S. 54 until it swept through Iuka, a town of 221 about six miles north of Pratt and just beyond the airport.
Some of the trackers went ahead of the storm and spread a warning.
The twister hit an elevator and a cooperative office building in the southeast part of Iuka. Turning through the center of town, it demolished city hall and ripped the roof off the home of Mayor Warren Taylor. MARJORIE TAYLOR, a 16-year-old daughter, was alone in the house and was not hurt.
At least five tornado funnels were sighted on the ground in the Smith Center area in a 90-minute period from about 3:30 to 5 p.m.
The most destructive apparently came into the southwest part of Smith County after destroying two farmsteads near Kirwin Reservoir in Phillips County.
A large dairy farm operated by GLEN and CARL McCORMICK near Cedar was demolished. All but the house was blown down at the WAYNE SCHOENI farm near Athol, and three other farms in the area were heavily damaged.
The Rock Island Railroad reported four of its poles were blown down two miles west of Athol.
Observers reported a tornado also touched down briefly southeast of Norton. Similar reports came from near Menneola and Kinsley, at Turon, Stafford, Zenith and Sylvia.
Dodge City had some hail and almost three inches of rain. Heavy hail damage was reported north of Tasco and near Sublette.
At Iuka, natural gas leakage caused a shutdown of the distribution system and led to reports the town was being evacuated. Power lines were knocked out.
The storm also disrupted the runway lighting and beacon system at the Pratt Airport.

The Emporia Gazette Kansas 1965-05-26

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