Two people were hurt by tornadoes in Nebraska and Oklahoma saw its first tornadoes of the year Sunday night, but that same storm system spared Wichita from severe weather as it moved through before dawn today.
Winds of 40 to 45 miles an hour and light rain were reported in Wichita, National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Darmofal said. Officially, .10 of an inch fell in Wichita, he said, though heavier amounts likely fell in other parts of the city.
The winds knocked Wichita radio station KDGS – Power 93.9 – off the air for nearly an hour, but the station was back on the air shortly before 7 a.m.
Storms that fired up along the dry line when it was farther west spawned tornadoes in Nebraska. Two tornadoes struck North Platte, injuring two people and damaging numerous homes and other buildings, according to the Omaha World Herald.
One tornado knocked over a semi on Interstate 80 and flipped 15 train cars in a Union Pacific rail yard, authorities said.
None of the injuries appeared to be serious. The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army opened shelters for people who had been displaced.
Sheriff’s deputies remained on the lookout early Monday for others who may have been injured. Power lines were down, making many roads impassable.
One of the injured persons had to be extricated from a house before being taken to a hospital, officials said. The other was a semitrailer driver whose rig was toppled on I-80 between Sutherland and Hershey, Neb. The semi driver also was taken to a hospital.
A possible tornado touched down near Valentine in northern Nebraska.
Hail as large as tennis balls and numerous tornadoes that touched down briefly were reported in southwest Oklahoma Sunday night, according to the Daily Oklahoman. No damage was reported. If confirmed later by weather officials, they would be the first tornadoes of 2012 in the Sooner State.
A total of 18 tornadoes were reported in three states Sunday, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. That number may include multiple reports of the same tornado, however.
More severe weather is possible today. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a moderate risk for severe weather for small pieces of southern Oklahoma and western Arkansas and a large swatch of central Texas.
Portions of nine states – including Kansas – are in a slight risk for severe weather today.
Though brief tornadoes can’t be ruled out, the primary threat in Kansas will be winds of 60 to 70 miles an hour and hail as large as quarters.