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High Winds, Hail and Heavily Needed Precipitation Comes through Central Kansas Sunday, May 19

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By Lucky Kidd

 

A damaged power pole at Main and Carpenter, near the north end of Frank Hart Crossing near the entrance to Carey Park. (Photo by Heath Schroder)

High winds, some hail and for some badly needed precipitation came through central Kansas late Sunday afternoon into the evening hours, also causing damage and at one point a shelter in place alert for the Burrton area.

Harvey County Emergency Management said there was a hydrochloric acid leak at Gressel Oil’s facility near US 50 and Woodberry Road, west of Burrton. The shelter-in place advisory, which was lifted just before midnight, also included the closure of a segment of US 50 between Burmac Road on the east edge of Burrton and Airport/Yoder Roads east of Hutchinson.

Winds from the storms were clocked at 100 miles an hour just before 6 PM in Salina, with an 86 mile an hour wind gust reported at Hutchinson Regional Airport and 82 mile an hour winds reported at the Russell Airport according to the National Weather Service in Wichita.

The storm caused multiple power outages, with Evergy reporting at one point over 40 thousand people without power, the largest part of which were in Harvey and Reno Counties. As of 9:20 AM there were still over 6.300 customers still without power in Reno County, just over 2,800 in Harvey County, 72 in the McPherson County primarily around the Windom area, and 122 in Marion County

Midwest Energy reported over 4,000 customers without power at one point, including most of their Reno County customers along with scattered other outages across their system with most of them back on. Ark Valley Electric Cooperative had close to 900 customers without power at one point, with nearly all of them back on as of this morning. DSO also had just over 800 customers off, most of whom were in the Lindsborg area with most power back on.

In Reno County there were numerous reports of tree limbs and power lines downed by the storm along with some reports of structural damage, most of which were in the southern and western parts of Hutchinson, in South Hutchinson, and in the Haven area according to reports last night.

In McPherson County, Emergency Management Director Julie McClure told County Commissioners this morning two oilfield tanks were struck by lightning, one in the Marquette area and another near 23rd and Kiowa Road southeast of Galva where there was an oil leak Galva firefighters were on the scene of through the night and were still there this morning. US 56 near 8th Avenue east of Conway was also closed for a time due to downed power lines across the highway.

A damage survey is expected to be made today in Harvey County, where authorities reported a possible tornado in Halstead. Halstead-Bentley USD 440 announced last night it will be closed until further notice with all activities canceled in the wake of the storms, while Newton USD 373 called off classes today due to storm damage and power outages.

Another city especially hard hit was Russell, where there was extensive damage to their electric distribution system along with many trees downed.

Storms weakened as they moved into southeast Kansas, however Allen County Emergency Management reported last night there were some trees downed in Humboldt, where limbs fell on at least one house.

Rainfall from the event varied widely. The highest totals reported were in an area from around Sylvan Grove in Lincoln southwest across northern and eastern McPherson County into Marion County. The highest rainfall totals reported to the National Weather Service in Wichita were 2.43 inches just northwest of Goessel and 2.11 inches from the McPherson cooperative observer site just east of town although higher totals were reported in the city.

Hutchinson Regional Airport reported .63 of an inch, with .31 in Sterling, 1.89” east of Lindsborg, 1.75” in Hillsboro, 1.19” in Newton, In Southeast Kansas rainfall varied widely, with .90 of an inch at the Iola Water Plant but just .22” at the Allen County Airport south of Iola, .83” in Humboldt and .42 in Chanute.