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Records falling with the rain in Wichita

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, July 29, 2013, at 2:08 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.

As the rain continues to fall in the Wichita area, the records are starting to pile up.

Even before rain began falling again Monday, Wichita had recorded its fourth-wettest July in history.

And Mother Nature is showing no signs of letting up in Wichita and around the state.

The state highway department said a stretch of the Kansas Turnpike was briefly closed by high water Monday afternoon near Matfield Green.

McPherson County was especially drenched Monday, with flash flooding reported. Rain fell at the rate of 4 inches an hour in the Lindsborg area Monday afternoon, said Kevin Darmofal, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Emergency crews had to evacuate about 35 to 40 people on Monday because of localized flooding, said Dillard Webster, emergency management director.

The high water levels in Lindsborg were a result of heavy rain in the town, not from the nearby river. One injury was reported, Webster said.

A shelter was set up by the Red Cross on Monday afternoon at Lindsborg High School. However, the shelter was closed by late Monday night because families had made other arrangements or stayed in their homes, Webster said.

“The water rose so fast, we had to put three flat-bottom boats in the water to help them evacuate,” Webster said Monday night.

A brief downpour Monday afternoon in Wichita marked the 17th day of the month on which measurable rainfall occurred, breaking the previous mark of 16 set in 1950.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, 7.67 inches of rain had fallen this month in Wichita, more than 4.6 inches above normal. That includes a record 1.65 inches on Sunday.

Although that’s little more than halfway to the record of 13.37 inches from 1950, the recent persistent rains in central and southern Kansas have prompted flooding concerns.

“Several locations are going to have some problems” with flooding if substantial rainfall occurs as expected, said Darmofal, who works in the weather service’s Wichita office.

“We’ve primed the pump already” with more than 5 inches of rain in the region over the past week, he said.

Officials are hoping the flooding threat won’t involve Wichita, but storms could still deliver substantial rain to the city.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management director Randy Duncan said there were no areas of concern yet in Wichita or the outlying areas, but a downpour delivering perhaps a little more than 2 inches in three hours could change that.

People who live in low-lying areas should “pay special attention” and “keep up to date,” Duncan said in an e-mail response to questions.

Cow Creek has risen “significantly” over the past few days, Reno County Emergency Management director Bill Guy said.

“We encourage anyone living along or near Cow Creek to pay particular attention and begin now to take precautions as the water begins to rise and potential flooding begins,” Guy said in a statement.

A flood watch has been posted for 16 counties in southern and southeast Kansas – including the Wichita area – until Tuesday afternoon. As much as 5 inches of rain is possible in the watch area, according to the National Weather Service. Widespread amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected in the watch area.

Storms are developing rapidly and dumping heavy rain.

“They’re really efficient rain producers,” Darmofal said. “There’s a lot of lightning, too.”

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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