Heavy rains near Muddy Creek set stage for school bus to be swept off crossing

Nowhere in the Wichita metropolitan area did it rain more in the 24 hours leading up to dawn on Halloween morning than in southwest Butler County and northwest Cowley County.

That set the stage for runoff to swell Muddy Creek, with rushing waters covering a low-water crossing just south of Southwest 190th, northeast of Douglass. The rapidly moving waters swept a school bus into the creek at about 4 p.m. Thursday.

Remarkably, everyone aboard the bus survived.

This rainfall map produced by the National Weather Service illustrates that the most rain fell in the area where the bus was swept into the creek.

The spring-like storm setup was ideal for significant rainfall to occur, said Jerilyn Billings, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

A cold front moving through the area had abundant moisture in the atmosphere to work with, she said.

“It was a very efficient rain producer,” Billings said. “It was going to dump a lot of rain.”

It did precisely that – and not in just one pass through the area. Multiple periods of heavy rain hoisted accumulation totals in a widespread area.