In response to a massive storm system moving across Kansas, the Kansas Division of Emergency management activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka earlier this afternoon. KDEM personnel will be monitoring the storms as they move across the state and be ready to provide response assistance to counties affected by the storms.
The first wave of thunderstorms began hitting Central and Western Kansas at approximately 1 p.m., moving eastward to central Kansas. KDEM personnel are contacting emergency managers to determine the extent of damages. Reports so far include farm outbuildings and a home damaged near Lorretta in Rush County.
Minor wind damages have been reported in Russell County. These damages include power lines and trees down throughout the county. K-18 is closed near Luray and Lucas due to power lines on the road. Estimated 500 residences are without power, plus random rural customers. Minor flooding is reported in some low lying areas.
According to the National Weather Service, damage was also reported to an old school building in Hodgeman County in addition to damage to some outbuildings along 232rd Road.
The major concern now is a second round of storms expected to move through the state after 6 p.m. with the potential for tornados, high winds, very large hail and heavy rain. Tornados will likely be long track with strength ranging from EF-2 to EF5. The greatest risk will be along a line from Belleville south to Wichita and eastward. These will be fast-moving storms, traveling at 40 to 65mph. This system is not expected to move out of the state until the early hours on Sunday.
Kansans across the state of urged to keep abreast of the changing weather conditions by listening to a NOAA weather radio or through local broadcast stations and be prepared to take cover if a severe storms or tornado warning is issued for their area. It is also recommended you have multiple ways to receive information in case one source of information fails.
The National Weather Service issued a number of severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches and warnings in rapid succession for several counties in Southwest, South Central and Central Kansas during the early afternoon hours as the first round of storms moved across the state. These counties included Barber, Barton Clark, Clay, Cloud, Comanche Dickinson, Edwards, Ellis, Ellsworth Finney, Ford, Gove, Graham, Gray, Harper, Haskell, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Reno, Republic, Rush, Russell, Saline, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Smith, Stafford, Trego and Washington. Some of these counties received multiple such watches and warnings in the space of a few hours.