The first severe weather of the season swept through north-central Kansas on Tuesday, resulting in large hail, fierce winds and an occasional tornado report.
There were reports of a spotted tornado near Ellsworth and approximately 14 miles southwest of Hunter, a small Mitchell County town in between Osborne and Luray. That area took an especially hard hit, with wind damage reported near Hunter and Lucas.
“There is some wind damage that could have been a tornado,” said Aaron Mangels, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hastings, Neb. “It has not been confirmed; we are sending a crew to survey the damage.”
The damage in Russell County included several outbuildings, such a machine shed near Lucas that had its roof blown off, said Keith Haberer, Russell County emergency management coordinator.
“There was some equipment that was moved around, blown around by the wind and damaged,” he said.
There also was a report of a semi-truck becoming jackknifed on Interstate 70 near Wilson due to high wind gusts.
At least two tornado warnings were issued in Russell County on Tuesday evening due to radar-indicated rotation, but there were no confirmed reports of a tornado, Haberer said.
The area also saw large hail, with some reports of tennis-sized hail in northeast Russell County.
Heavy rainfall also has prompted flood warnings that remain in effect today for some areas, including southeastern Osborne County. A flash flood watch is in effect for the rest of the county.
“We had reports of 3 to 5 inches of rain, kind of in a line from Luray and Waldo up towards Beloit in Mitchell County,” Mangels said.
The flood warning and watch remain in effect because another round of thunderstorms is expected to hit the same area again later today. The storms are expected to begin developing this afternoon and could develop between 1 and 2 p.m. in the Hays area.
Closer to Hays, large hail was the biggest threat from Tuesday’s storms. The largest hail reported in Ellis County was 1.5-inches in diameter, with massive 2.5-inch hail pounding parts of Rush County.
National Weather Service is continuing to monitor damage reports, and expect more to come in through the day, said Richard Lowe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dodge City.
“With hail that size, of course there was some damage of some sort,” he said.
A tornado warning also was issued in Ness and Rush counties due to radar-indicated rotation, though there were no confirmed reports, Lowe said. That same storm cell, however, pushed on toward Ellsworth County and caused a confirmed tornado near Ellsworth.
Residents are urged to be cautious today as a second round of potential severe weather approaches.
“It’s a similar set-up as yesterday and it might start earlier this afternoon,” Lowe said. “We’re looking at the biggest threats being the hail and the winds, and a brief tornado or two can’t be ruled out as well.”