Monthly Archives: June 2011

A rainy spell welcome news in Wichita

The past two weeks have seen more than four inches of rain fall in Wichita. That’s good news for a parched region, but meteorologists say Wichita is still below normal for the year.

As of Wednesday morning, 4.73 inches of rain has fallen in Wichita. That’s 1.67 inches above normal for this point of the month. But even this wet June has merely raised the rainfall total for the year to 11.34 inches. That’s more than 3 inches below normal for the year.

“It’s just filling up the cracks,” National Weather Service meteorologist Leon Wasinger said of the recent rains.

By comparison, Wichita at this time last year was at 16.17 for the year, nearly 2 inches above normal.

The precipitation news is not good out west, however. Dodge City has recorded only .26 of an inch so far this month, more than 2 inches below normal.

Dodge has recorded only 3.28 inches all year, more than 7.5 inches below normal.

“We are still in severe drought,” said Larry Ruthi, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service branch in Dodge City.

It’s even worse down in Elkhart, in the southwestern corner of the state. Only 2.08 inches of rain have fallen in all of 2011.

“Elkhart hasn’t had anything there, for all practical purposes,” Ruthi said. “It’s extremely dry.”

The Climate Prediction Center projects the drought easing at least somewhat in all of southern and western Kansas over the next three months. But Ruthi’s not buying it.

A ridge of high pressure is settling in over the southwest United States, he said, and it could spread into southwest Kansas.

“They tend to lock in for much of the summer,” Ruthi said.

That’ll push rains north and east of parched places like Dodge City, Elkhart and Liberal. Asked if that translates into a long, hot, dry summer for the region, Ruthi offered a grim answer.

“It very well could be.”

Wichita weather: Another windy summer day for region

More sunshine and more wind are in the forecast today for the Wichita area, forecasters say.

Highs will be around 90, which is about average for this time of year. West-northwest winds will strengthen as the day stretches out, increasing from the low single digits to the upper teens. Gusts will approach 30 miles an hour.

Lows tonight will slip to the low 60s, and Thursday should be pleasant: Highs in the upper 80s under mostly sunny skies and light northerly winds.

A chance of showers arrives again Thursday night and persists into the weekend, forecasters say.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Four injuries reported from a tornado in northwest Kansas

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.

Wichita weather: Still breezy, but much cooler

The wind will stick around for another day or two, but much cooler temperatures are on tap for the Wichita area.

Forecasters say today’s high will only reach the mid-80s under sunny skies, as cooler air filters into the region behind the line of storms that marched through the eastern half of the state last night. West-northwest winds will be in the teens, with gusts to nearly 30 miles an hour.

Lows tonight will be in the low 60s, and Wednesday should see more sunshine and highs in the upper 80s. More chances for rain arrive late in the week.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Tornado watch for Wichita area until 10 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for more than one-third of Kansas until 10 p.m.

Wichita and the surrounding area are included in the watch. Most of eastern and northern Kansas are included as well.

Monitor conditions and be prepared to seek shelter as needed.

Severe weather threat increases for Wichita area

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman has elevated the severe weather threat for eastern Kansas – including Wichita – to moderate for later today.

The National Weather Service in Wichita has issued a hazardous weather outlook stating “the most likely time for storm development is after 2 p.m. The stronger storms will be capable of producing golf ball sized hail and winds to 80 mph. A few brief tornadoes are also possible with this activity.”

A tornado touched down near Quinter in Gove County early this afternoon, but it passed east of the town and inflicted no damage.

Wichita weather: Windy, with a few strong storms possible

A windy Monday is on tap for south central Kansas, forecasters say, and a few strong storms are possible later this afternoon and evening.

A wind advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. in the Wichita area. Winds are expected to blow steadily at more than 30 miles an hour and gusts could reach 45 mph, officials say.

Highs under partly cloudy skies today could flirt with the century mark. Storms are expected to fire up after 2 p.m., forecasters say, with areas along and east of I-135 the most likely to see severe weather.

Large hail, winds of at least 65 miles an hour and a few tornadoes are possible with these storms, forecasters say.

Overnight lows will be in the upper 60s, and more thunderstorms are possible in the Wichita area on Tuesday.

Monitor conditions and be prepared to seek shelter if necessary. For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Wichita weather: A sizzling day, with a chance of more storms later today

Wichita could see both the century mark and more summer thunderstorms today, forecasters say.

Highs are expected to reach the upper 90s or even 100, with winds in the teens shifting from the east-southeast to the southwest. Gusts will top 20 miles an hour.

Thunderstorms this afternoon are most likely along the Kansas Turnpike corridor, according to the National Weather Service. The primary threats will be heavy rain and strong winds.

After an overnight low in the low 70s, Saturday should be cooler. Highs should only be in the low 90s, but a chance of showers and thunderstorms persists.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Report of woman being hit by lightning false

Reports that a 56-year-old woman was struck by a bolt of lightning in northeast Wichita during this morning’s thunderstorm are false, authorities said.

The strike was reported at 11:18 a.m., a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. The woman said the lightning came through a window at her townhouse in the 7400 block of East 32nd North. She was treated at the scene for a minor injury, the dispatch supervisor said, and refused transport to a local hospital.

“It appears there was a nearby (lightning) strike, but it did not strike the house or her,” Sedgwick County EMS Capt. Keith Maurath said.

Intense lightning was frequent as a gust front and thunderstorm rolled through the metropolitan area late in the morning. More showers and thunderstorms are possible later tonight.

Storms rolling through Wichita area

Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle
Dark clouds, intense lightning, strong winds and spasms of rain are moving through the Wichita metropolitan area this morning.

No warnings have been issued, however, because the conditions are not serious enough to trigger them.

Winds as strong as 49 miles an hour have been clocked at McConnell Air Force Base, said Jerilyn Billings, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. All of Wichita could receive rain from this line of storms, she said, but the highest totals – perhaps a quarter of an inch – will fall on northern and eastern parts of town.

“If you’re lucky, you’ll get a half-inch” of rain, Billings said.

The frequent lightning poses the greatest threat to safety, she said, so people should seek shelter if they’re outside.