Category Archives: Wind

I-70 reopens in northwest Kansas

Conditions have improved enough for I-70 to reopen from Goodland to the Colorado state line.

Blowing snow and snow-covered roads had prompted the closing of the interstate earlier today.

Blowing snow closes I-70 west of Goodland

Authorities have closed I-70 from Goodland to the Colorado state line due to blowing snow.

More than two feet of snow has fallen in parts of northwestern Colorado, and northwest Kansas has widespread reports of several inches of snow.

The precipitation is still falling as rain in the Wichita area, with as much as 1.25 inches reported in the city as of about 7 a.m. Snow is already being reported in Reno County, however, and forecasters are still calling for a dusting of snow in the metro area later today.

Map of snow storm’s impact

Here’s a map generated by the National Weather Service indicating the projected impact of the snow storm moving through Kansas today and tonight.

A new way to measure wind speeds?

I was annoyed by what I thought was a leaf blower outside. It’s the wind!

Amy Palmer’s tweet from windy, snowy Kansas City earlier today made me chuckle.

Then it made me think: why don’t we use descriptive terms or phrases for the wind more often? We have “hail the size of golf balls,” for example.

But how often do we hear the wind speed/strength relayed in ways we quickly grasp? What’s a gale-force wind sound like, for those who haven’t experienced them? What does a 15-mile-an-hour breeze sound like?

Oh, we’ve all heard the cliche about tornadoes sounding like freight trains – the irony being that, for all the tornadoes I’ve been close enough to hear, not one of them made me think of a freight train. Jet engines? Yes. A flowing river? Yes, especially if the tornado is moving over a wheat field or pasture. A freight train? Nope.

I’ve heard wind whisper, whistle, whine, howl.

But what terms or phrases do you use? Let me know at sfinger@wichitaeagle.com, and I’ll share them in another blog post.

Storm damage assessments begin around Kansas

Authorities have begun assessing widespread damage in the wake of severe storms that brought at least two tornadoes, damaging winds and hail to eastern Kansas Tuesday night.

“Big event for February” in Kansas, said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service. “Good lord.”

One tornado damaged a large portion of the small Wabaunsee County town of Harveyville southwest of Topeka after sunset, and Westar officials today said the entire town is without electricity. Straight-line winds of more than 70 miles an hour felled more than two dozen utility poles in McPherson County last night, knocking out power to the entire town of Moundridge.

One person was critically injured in Labette in southeastern Kansas last night, Lawson said. The victim has been transported to a Wichita hospital for treatment. The Labette County Emergency Manager is conducting a damage assessment survey to determine whether the three-mile wide damage path was the result of a short-lived tornado or straight-line winds.

“We do have a number of customers without power” in eastern Kansas, Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said.

That includes about 4,000 customers in southeast Kansas, she said.

Extensive damage has been reported at Strother Field in Cowley County, where winds of at least 60 miles an hour were reported at 9 p.m. The same storm system continued strengthening as it moved east and caused extensive damage in southwestern Missouri later Tuesday night. Downtown Branson was hit by either a tornado or powerful winds, authorities said, and one person died in the town of Buffalo south of Springfield.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., documented 14 tornado reports in five different states Tuesday – including the first February tornado in Nebraska since records began being kept in 1950. The first was spotted nine miles west-southwest of Gandy in western Nebraska, and a second was reported later west of Greeley in the center of the state.

At least one tornado touched down in Reno County, authorities said. It stayed on the ground for about five minutes before lifting southwest of Hutchinson.

Damage reports adding up in the Wichita metropolitan area

Strong winds caused damage in several counties east of Wichita late Monday afternoon and into the evening.

Jabara Airport in northeast Wichita clocked a 67 mile-per-hour wind gust at 4:11 p.m., National Weather Service reports state. In Andover, Butler County Emergency Management reported a roof being torn off a building and cars being moved around in a parking lot just after 4:15 p.m.

A shed was damaged and blown into the road at U.S. 400 and Santa Fe Lake Road 6 miles east of Andover just before 4:30 p.m.

The El Dorado exit on the Kansas Turnpike clocked 60 mph winds just before 4:40 p.m. In the Montgomery County town of Caney, walls of an old garage were blown down and roofs were torn off a barn and another outbuilding at about 5:45 p.m., according to the weather service.

Pea- and nickel-sized hail reports were widespread throughout the Wichita metropolitan area, the National Weather Service reports. Hail one inch in diameter was reported just a mile east-southeast of Wichita shortly after 4 p.m.

Most of the hail was soft and mushy, weather officials said.

Biting cold winds making Wichita shudder

November winds are howling through Wichita today, bringing down power lines and stirring up so much dust a haze has settled over portions of the city.

The southerly winds are blowing steadily at nearly 30 miles an hour and gusting to more than 50, according to the National Weather Service. A red flag warning remains in effect until 6 p.m.

Folks were trying to maintain their sense of humor in the midst of the ferocious winds. Just after noon, the Wichita Police Department tweeted “It is windy enough today, we considered putting sails on our police cars to save gas!”

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.

Winds earlier this week “truly remarkable,” weather officials say

Yes, it can be windy in Kansas come springtime – then again, it can be windy around here pretty much any time of year.

But those persistently high winds and frequent gusts of 45 miles an hour or more have turned heads of national weather officials nonetheless. There were more than 1,000 reports of thunderstorm wind gusts or winds strong enough to cause damage.

Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, called that “a truly remarkable number of wind events.”

Large hail, strong winds reported with Sunday night storm

Damaging winds and large hail were reported with a late-night storm system Sunday, authorities said, but Wichita ducked the worst of it.

A wind of 63 miles an hour was reported at Mid-Continent Airport at 8:20 p.m., and there were reports of pea-sized hail in northwest Wichita. But that was about it for the city, said Scott Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“We just missed it,” Smith said.

Hail as large as hen’s eggs fell in Lincolnville in Marion County, and golf ball-sized hail fell in Saffordville in Chase County, north of Benton in Butler County, northwest of Marion in Marion County and in Winfield in Cowley County. Nickel-sized hail fell in Park City.

Courtesy LiveHailMap.com

Power poles were knocked down at K-196 just north of U.S. 254 west-northwest of El Dorado, sparking a grass fire shortly after 8:30 p.m., authorities reported. Winds of 70 miles an hour were reported in Chase and Butler counties Sunday night.

More strong winds are expected this afternoon, Smith said, with gusts topping 40 miles an hour. A red flag warning has been issued for 1 to 5 p.m. in 20 counties of central and southern Kansas, including the Wichita metropolitan area.