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Large hail pounds parts of NW Kansas

4/24/2008

By WILL MANLY

By WILL MANLY

will@thestironline.com

A thunderstorm unleashed its formidable wrath Thursday night on the Sheridan County community of Selden. For some 20 minutes, golf ball-sized hail pummeled buildings, shattering windows on the north sides of buildings and destroyed car windshields.

Much larger hail -- as big as softball-sized -- also was reported.

"I didn't see any softball-sized hail, but from some of the dents in some of the cars, there was some that big," said Sheridan County Emergency Manager Jacque Boultinghouse, who also is Selden's mayor. "Any home that has windows on the north side, they were probably broken. I haven't really looked around a lot yet, but I'm gonna guess there's a lot of roofs that are gonna have to be reshingled."

Boultinghouse said she knew of no injuries, but Golden Plains Grade School in Selden canceled classes today because of hail damage to the roof. The National Weather Service in Goodland said it might dispatch representatives to survey damage.

"That storm was producing baseball- to softball-size hail for several hours," said NWS meteorologist Chris Foltz. "It was a very powerful storm."

In addition to the hail in Selden, Foltz said baseball-sized hail was reported in rural Sheridan County north and northwest of Studley, and in rural areas south of Jennings.

The storm was especially violent because it was largely isolated, Foltz said.

"A lot of times when you get a lot of thunderstorms, they kind of steal air from each other," he said. "Any of the available energy in the atmosphere was available to be tapped by that thunderstorm."

The result: extensive damage to homes and vehicles. Nearly every vehicle not protected by roof probably was damaged, Boultinghouse said.

"During the storm last night, I managed to pull my car under the car wash," she said.

Other vehicles weren't so lucky.

"They were sitting on Main Street, and one by one ... it picked windows at random and just busted them out. I bet I've seen 10 or 15 windshields that were shattered," Boultinghouse said. "I'll bet it hailed golf ball-sized hail for probably 20 minutes. It just kept coming and coming."