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Power restored to Ellis, Trego counties

5/20/2013

By MIKE CORN and JUDY SHERARD

By MIKE CORN and JUDY SHERARD

The Hays Daily News

Power to as many as 300 customers of Western Cooperative Electric was restored Sunday evening, nearly 24 hours after what was believed to be one of several tornadoes in the area toppled a string of line carrying 69,000 volts of electricity.

The outage affected customers in southwest Ellis County and southeast Trego County, including Cedar Bluff Reservoir where campers either had to go without power or rely on generators. Many packed up and headed home.

While it's not certain if the Western damage was caused by a tornado, incoming general manager Darrin Lynch said someone in the area reported seeing rotation. The poles were thrown to the south, even though the storm was moving to the east and northeast.

It would have been one of several tornadoes reported in the Ellis, Trego and Ness county area Saturday evening, part of a severe storm system that swept through the area.

Tornadoes also were reported 5 miles south of Ellis, 10 miles southeast of Ellis and 3 miles north of Brownell.

The seven damaged structures holding the 69,000-volt power line consist of two poles with a cross-beam, something of an H-styled structure holding the massive lines.

"That's the only line feeding the Ellis substation," Lynch said of the line coming in from the Ransom area.

Because of the size of the poles, Western called in Sunflower Electric, which has larger equipment to handle replacing the structure.

A crew was out Saturday evening to assess what it needed, returning at 5 a.m. Sunday with augers and cranes to set the poles. Power was restored at approximately 7:40 p.m. Crews from Western were there to help as well.

Western is one of six electric cooperatives owning Sunflower.

The tornadoes Saturday were just part of a larger system that produced big hail and in some places, heavy rain.

Hail 1.25 inches was reported at Catharine, according to a storm report from the National Weather Service in Dodge City. Near Ransom in northern Ness County, reports of 2-inch hail were submitted to the NWS as the storm began to intensify and move into portions of Trego County, where hail was reported as well.

Straight line winds also were a problem.