Powerful winds gusting to about 60 mph and beyond cause headaches across Kansas with widespread power outages, crashes on state highways and property damage.
From highway closures in northwest Kansas due to a blizzard in Colorado to wrecks, down power lines and falling trees caused by that strong wind in south central Kansas, Wednesday was a hectic day when it comes to weather in the Sunflower State.
Storm Team 12 issued a weather alert for Wednesday due to the wicked winds that might continue through Thursday.
A week that began with flooding concerns with localized heavy rain transitioned into a widespread wind event that impacted almost all of Kansas with the gusts powerful enough to knock out power and damage property.
Wednesday night, Storm Team 12 Chief Meteorologist Ross Janssen reported three notable wind gust peaks, one in south central Kansas and two way out west.
Locally, winds in Hutchinson gusted to 68 mph. In northwest Kansas, gusts in Goodland reached 70, while winds in the western Wallace County community of Weskan gusted to 85 mph.
While Thursday will again be blustery for much of Kansas, winds overall will be calmer than Wednesday with gusts of no more than 50 to 60 mph expected.
As the wind continued into late Wednesday night, about 2,300 Westar Energy customers remained without power in parts of Sedgwick, Sumner and Butler counties.
Looking ahead, a dip in temperature comes with calming winds. Storm Team 12 says Friday will begin to calm down a bit with sunshine and highs near 50.
Citing the continued powerful wind and area highway closures — due to blizzard conditions across the state line in Colorado — the Wallace County school district (USD 241) will not have school Thursday. As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, Wallace County is the only district to cancel classes Thursday.
The Thomas County Sheriff’s Office says highway closures are expanding from northwest Kansas to the Colorado border as a blizzard slams the Rocky Mountain State.
The expanded closure include I-70 from Colby to the Colorado line. The sheriff’s office says westbound I-70 traffic from WaKeeney may also close, but the eastbound lanes will remain open.
A blizzard slamming Colorado is part of the storm system bringing the powerful winds to Kansas. That blizzard causes road closures on some highways from Colorado to northwest Kansas.
The Kansas Department of Transportation says closures include I-70 from Goodland to the Colorado line, U.S. 36 from Atwood to the Colorado line, U.S. 40 from Sharon Springs to the Colorado line and K-27 from Goodland to the Colorado line.
While Wednesday’s wind knocked down power lines across parts of Kansas, crews for the most part, are staying ahead in the effort to keep lights on. As of 6:45 p.m., Westar Energy reported about 2,000 customers are affected by outages.
An update on peak wind gusts across Kansas shows the highest speed southwest, about five miles south of Elkhart. It’s here that a peak wind gust of 75 mph was recorded Wednesday afternoon.
A 63-mph gust was reported just north of El Dorado, followed by peak gusts of 62 mph in Russell and Liberal, 60 mph in Hutchinson and 59 mph in Wichita.
Storm Team 12 Chief Meteorologist Ross Janssen says we won’t catch much of a break from the wind through Wednesday night. He says the sustained wind speeds will let up a little, but Kansans can still expect gusts of 45 to 60 mph.
More wicked wind comes Thursday, Storm Team 12 reports. The high-wind warning covering about 98 percent of Kansas will carry on through Thursday.
A storm associated with the winds slammed Colorado with a blizzard and could bring snow to northwest Kansas Thursday.
Blamed for Wednesday’s wind, widespread power outages continue across Kansas. In south central Kansas, Westar Energy reports about 1,500 customers are without power. This includes customers in Reno, Kingman, Sedgwick, Harvey, Butler, Greenwood and Marion counties.
The wind was strong enough in the Wichita area to cause damage to large trees and even tip over an approximate 3,000-pound stegosaurus at the Field Station Dinosaurs park in Derby.
Wednesday afternoon,damage reports included a man suffering serious injuries from a fallen tree in northeast Wichita. A falling tree also heavily damaged a car in Salina.
Wow!! We’ve heard several reports of downed trees on Wichita today due to the wind. This one is actually from @KWCHMark. Stay safe out there! �� pic.twitter.com/Jd1AYCcaZ5
— Rachel Skytta (@KWCHRachel) March 13, 2019
The dangerously strong wind is to blame for several traffic problems across Kansas involving large trucks.
In western Kansas on Highway 50 in Edwards County, Kansas Highway Patrol troopers responded to the scene of a tipped-over semi near Kinsley. There was a similar scene involving a tipped semi on US 400 near the Butler/Greenwood County line.
Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman also reports a traffic blockage in Russell County from a tipped semi.
Chief Meteorologist Ross Janssen provides a look around Kansas and some of the strongest gusts we’ve seen Wednesday afternoon. Through 4 p.m., Liberal experienced peak wind gusts of 62 mph. Hutchinson had a 60 mph guns,followed by 59-mph gusts in Wichita and Medicine Lodge and 54 mph gusts in Salina and Dodge City.
Here are some of the gusts so far this afternoon. Please be careful out there. #kswx @KWCH12 pic.twitter.com/vpvZCPOWcY
— Ross Janssen (@KWCHRoss) March 13, 2019
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