WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Severe weather swept through the state Thursday bringing heavy rains, large hail and even some tornadoes.
One of the hardest hit areas was Salina, where storms knocked down large trees and power poles.
A large, old tree blocked a roadway in Salina until fire crews sawed it into pieces for removal. A big cedar tree also fell onto a woman’s house in Salina. The woman said she did not hear it happen, and nobody was injured.
The emergency management director said there have been no reports of injury due to the storms.
The Salina Speedway suffered significant damage from the storm. The Salina Speedway promoter, Tommy Hendrickson, said the men’s bathroom was destroyed, light poles were knocked down, and roofs were ripped off of buildings.
Hendrickson said they will not be racing for the next few weeks. They are hoping to hold their next race on June 8.
One thing Hendrickson knows for sure is that they are going to need a lot of help from the community. A Facebook post by the Salina Speedway fan page announcing the damage has already been shared more than 4,000 times.
The strong storms caused many power outages. More than 5,500 Westar customers were without electricity. Right now, only about 850 still don’t have electricity. Officials hope to have the power back on for customers by 8:00 a.m.
Those same storms also caused many downed trees and power outages on the west side of Salina. Crews even had to saw logs out of fallen trees to allow traffic to get through. Saline County Emergency Manager, Hannah Strambaugh, was proud to share there were no injuries reported last night.
“We’ll just be monitoring what is going on out there,” said Strambaugh. “We’ll be monitoring what the officers are saying, our public works and anything out on the street to try to get debris cleaned off of the roadway and power restored. Just so we can keep an eye on what’s going on out there.”
Stambaugh called Thursday’s events “round 1” of the storm and are preparing for more today.
In south central Kansas, winds from the storms were a huge problem. They knocked over a camper trailer about one mile west of Cunningham in Kingman County just east of Pratt on US 400. The driver was not injured in the accident.
The storms also caused tree damage in Wichita and surrounding areas. Close to a dozen limbs snapped in Linwood Park. There was also plenty of cloud to ground lightning in Wichita throughout the storms. The lightning is expected to continue until 11:00 p.m.
The National Weather Service says several tornadoes touched down briefly in mostly rural areas of Kansas as a severe storm system stretched from Oklahoma into south-central Kansas.
Meteorologist Vanessa Pearce in Wichita says tornadoes were reported in Barton, Barber and Ford counties Thursday afternoon. Heavy rains and hail were reported across much of the region, with flash flooding reported in Great Bend, Kansas. No serious damage or injuries were reported.
The system also spawned several tornadoes Thursday in Oklahoma and Texas. Meteorologist Michael Scotten in Norman, Oklahoma, says four tornadoes were reported in western Oklahoma and two in northwest Texas. The twisters struck near the towns of Duke and Corn in Oklahoma and Crowell, Texas, Thursday afternoon.
Significant and “intense” tornadoes were forecast for the Southern Plains through Friday.
It will take a few days for officials to assess all of the damage caused by the storm.