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Tornadoes, High Winds and Hail Hammer Eastern Kansas

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – As many as five Tornado Warnings were issued for northeast Kansas Wednesday night, affecting a number of counties. The National Weather Service says Tornado Warnings were issued for Lyon, Morris, Chase, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Clay, Marshall and Nemaha counties.

There have been no reports of injury but emergency management crews will fan out today (THUR) to survey any damage. Matt Flanagan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka, says Chase County may have sustained the most storm damage because a confirmed tornado touched down there, near Strong City and Cottonwood Falls.

Kansas seems to have escaped major damage from Wednesday night’s storms. Oklahoma was not as lucky. At least two people were killed when tornadoes touched down near Cole, Oklahoma, and officials say that death toll could climb.  “It is reasonable to expect possibly more based on the damage that we’ve seen,” McClain County Deputy Sheriff Scott Gibbons said on NBC’s “Today Show” of the potential for additional deaths to be confirmed.

Power lines also were torn down, trees toppled, and homes and other buildings badly damaged or destroyed. Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee and an airport were damaged before the tornado moved away and weakened. “We do not have a number of homes or businesses damaged, but we do know that significant damage occurred,” Benny Fulkerson, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said in a statement late Wednesday.

More than half a dozen confirmed tornadoes rolled across three states in the central U.S. Wednesday night: Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

Tennis ball-sized hail fell in Chase County, near Cottonwood Falls and high winds knocked over semi-trucks in Strong City. Parts of Geary County reported egg-sized hail. And baseball-sized hail was reported near Peabody in Marion County. Residents of Lawrence were awakened early Thursday morning by the sound of large hail hitting their roofs. Flanagan says one-inch size hail moved through Lawrence around 3:30 am.