7,000 Without Power in KS
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Utility companies have been working to restore power to thousands of customers after heavy storms and tornadoes hit Kansas over the weekend. Westar Energy said yesterday (SUN) that power is expected to be fully restored by late tomorrow (TUE). The utility company said heavy sightseeing traffic in hard-hit areas of Wichita has slowed down repairs. The storms and tornadoes hit the Wichita area late Saturday. No fatalities have been reported. Westar said up to 26,500 customers lost power Saturday night, but by early Sunday that number had been reduced to about 7,300 customers in Sedgwick County and 140 in Butler County. The storms knocked down more than 110 power poles and broke nearly 200 power lines and also damaged substations. Westar Energy provides electric service to about 687,000 in Kansas.
NWS Says EF-3 Tornado Hit Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service says preliminary reports show that an EF-3 tornado struck the southeast side of Wichita this weekend. Jim Keeney, a meteorologist with the weather service, says the tornado that hit Wichita late Saturday has been given a preliminary ranking of EF-3 based on damage there. Another tornado that hit Ellsworth County Saturday has been rated an EF-4. No fatalities were reported in the storms in Kansas, but extensive damage was reported in Sedgwick and Rice counties. Keeney said the ratings are preliminary, and final rankings will likely be available sometime today (MON). The weather service says the EF Scale is used to assign a tornado a 'rating' based on estimated wind speeds and damage. The tornado scale ranges from EF-1 to EF-5, which is the worst.
UPDATE: Forecasters Estimate 75 Storms Hit Great Plains
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Forecasters say it appears about 75 tornadoes touched down in four Great Plains states Saturday. Greg Carbin, a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said Monday most of the tornadoes were in Kansas, followed by Oklahoma, Iowa and Nebraska. The tornadoes hit during a 24-hour period from 7 am Saturday to 7 am Sunday.
Kansas Hit by More than Month's Worth of Tornadoes
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service says Kansas likely had more than a month's worth of tornadoes in this weekend's outbreak. Mike Hudson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Kansas City, says crews are assessing the hardest hit areas from the storms that hit Saturday and Sunday. They're trying to determine how many tornadoes were involved. State officials reported widespread damage in Sedgwick and Rice counties, but no fatalities. Hudson says there were 122 preliminary tornado reports in the region, with most occurring in Kansas, but some of those are likely multiple reports of the same tornado. He says statistics show Kansas averages 12 tornadoes in April.
Wichita Aircraft Companies Hit by Storm
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita aircraft manufacturing sites were damaged in the heavy weekend storms and tornadoes that hit the area. Boeing says the storms that started late Saturday damaged at least three of the company's buildings in Wichita. Boeing spokeswoman Yvonne Johnson-Jones says the company is still assessing the damage and isn't commenting yet on whether any of its aircraft were damaged. Spirit AeroSystems spokeswoman Debbie Gann said some of that company's building sustained significant damage. The Wichita Eagle reports that one of Hawker Beechcraft's buildings lost part of a roof and repairs were under Sunday. The storms also struck in Nebraska, Iowa and northwest Oklahoma, where five people died.
Gov Hails Kansans for Heeding Storm Warnings
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says residents took storm warnings seriously as heavy storms and dozens of tornadoes battered the state, causing extensive damage but no fatalities. The tornadoes that touched down across the state Saturday and early Sunday hit Sedgwick and Rice counties especially hard. A reported tornado in Wichita caused damage at McConnell Air Force Base and at a Wichita mobile home park. Preliminary damage estimates could be as high as $283 million. Brownback, who issued a declaration of disaster emergency early Sunday, said the state was fortunate to have escaped fatalities. He says residents responded to the storm warnings and took cover, and that preparation may have saved many lives.
Grand Forks Base Hosts Visiting Aircraft for Storm
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Refueling tankers from Wichita's McConnell Air Force Base have been stationed at the Grand Forks Air Force Base — but only to wait out a storm. Base officials say 16 aircraft from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell were moved to the Grand Forks base in North Dakota on Saturday. A reported tornado Saturday evening in Wichita caused damage at McConnell. The Grand Forks base was home to refueling tankers for 50 years until the 2005 federal base closing and realignment commission changed its mission to unmanned aircraft. There was other increased air traffic at the Grand Forks base over the weekend. Eight aircraft carrying 37 personnel from the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, also took refuge from the storm in Grand Forks.
Storms Leave Damage at Quivira Wildlife Refuge
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The storms that raked Kansas during the weekend left downed power lines and some closed roads at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The good news is that a pair of nesting eagles at the central Kansas refuge apparently survived the storms. The Wichita Eagle reports Saturday's storms ripped out about a mile of power lines and poles at the refuge and uprooted about a quarter mile of trees. Several roads leading into the refuge were closed. Barry Jones, a visitor services specialist at the refigure, says an eagle's nest with hatchlings had survived the storm. An adult bald eagle was spotted Sunday on the nest but it wasn't immediately clear if hatchlings in the nest had survived the storm.