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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hail and rain pelt region; several tornadoes spotted

BY HURST LAVIANA
The Wichita Eagle

A thunderstorm that spread hail and heavy rains across south-central Kansas on Wednesday spawned several small tornadoes that caused little or no damage.

The National Weather Service in Wichita said three tornadoes touched down briefly south of Wichita between 6:30 and 7 p.m., prompting a tornado warning for Sedgwick County and surrounding areas until 7:15 p.m.

KWCH meteorologist Ross Janssen said that by nightfall, forecasters had received a half-dozen reports of tornadoes around the area, the first of which was reported seven miles west of Derby.

He said hail and heavy rain were reported across much of south-central Kansas.

"We've had some damage — most of it hail damage — and some sporadic reports of wind damage," he said. "There hasn't been any significant damage from a tornado."

Janssen said forecasters were expecting severe weather late Wednesday as a cold front moved through the area.

Several reports of baseball-size hail and larger were reported in Goddard and other parts of western Sedgwick County as the front moved into the area. Golf-ball-size hail spread across much of Wichita during the height of the storm.

In Sedgwick County, emergency dispatchers received several reports of downed power lines and poles, and Westar Energy said 10,000 of its Sedgwick County customers at one point were without power.

Dispatchers said the bulk of the reports of hail and wind damage came from the western and southern part of the county.

National Weather Service meteorologist Vanessa Pearce said hailstones as large as 4 1/2 inches in diameter were reported.

For some, the hail brought memories of the July 8, 2009, storm that pelted much of downtown Wichita with golf-ball-size hail for 30 minutes, smashing windows, roofs and windshields across the area.

At Lawrence-Dumont Stadium that night, the Wichita Wingnuts baseball game was called in the seventh inning after the hail turned the baseball field into a sea of white.

Janssen said Wednesday's storms were expected to move out of the area by midnight, leaving much milder weather today.

Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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