Four people were injured Monday when a tornado struck their rural Norton County home, state officials said.
The tornado was one of more than a half-dozen reported in northwest Kansas on Monday. None of the injuries was serious, Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, told the Associated Press.
At least three homes were damaged or destroyed outside Almena near the Nebraska border, Watson said.
Preliminary reports indicate most of the tornadoes were EF0 or EF1 and relatively short-lived, according to the Goodland branch of the National Weather Service. But one tornado, north of Hill City in Graham County, was rated an EF3.
Here’s a photo of that large tornado, near U.S. 283, taken by Mike Umscheid, a meteorologist with the Dodge City branch of the weather service. Umschied, who was storm chasing while on vacation, is the meteorologist who issued the “tornado emergency” for Greensburg in 2007.
Tornadoes were also reported in Gove, Sheridan and Phillips counties. Hail as large as softballs was reported in Haskell County, and as large as baseballs in Graham County
No tornadoes were reported in the Wichita area, but powerful straight line winds are blamed for damage near Maize and Valley Center. A metal shed was flattened near Hoover and 53rd Street North, and a semi was blown over two miles east of Maize on K-96.
A roof was ripped off a building a mile southeast of Valley Center, and swingset was blown into a bay window of a house in town. Fences were also blown down in Douglass in Butler County as the line of storms moved east.
The strongest winds reported in Sedgwick County were 72 miles an hour at the weather service office in west Wichita, while winds of 76 mph were recorded in Atlanta in Butler County.
The winds downed 14 power poles in the Wichita area, according to Gina Penzig, a Westar spokeswoman. Over the course of the storm, about 7,000 customers lost power. About half of that number regained power by 10 p.m. Monday, and the rest had been restored by about 8:30 a.m. today, Penzig said.
Storm damage surveys were being conducted Tuesday by officials from the Goodland and Wichita branches of the weather service.