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May 23, 2014

Add rain to holiday weekend plans in Wichita area

Folks wondering what the weather will be like this Memorial Day weekend received something of a primer late Thursday night and early Friday.

Folks wondering what the weather will be like this Memorial Day weekend received something of a primer late Thursday night and early Friday.

Some spots in Wichita received rain and others not a drop. But where it rained, it rained plenty.

Torrential overnight rains triggered flash flooding in parts of Wichita early Friday morning. Kellogg next to Edgemoor was even closed for a few hours Friday morning.

“It just came down so fast,” said Scott Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The official reporting station next to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport logged 1.74 inches, Smith said, and most of that fell in a short time.

Heavy rain also fell downtown and in east Wichita, while northern sectors of the city received little to no rain. Jabara Airport, near 29th Street North and Webb Road, for example, reported no rain at all.

When it rains that hard, Smith said, “Drainage systems just can’t handle it – especially if it’s clogged up by branches and debris because it’s been dry for so long.”

The heavy rain came from “one little small cell that was pretty much stationary,” Smith said.

The rain may have been a factor when a car struck a pedestrian in downtown Wichita. Police say a car was driving west on Douglas at 11 p.m. Thursday when a 54-year-old man stepped out into the street on Broadway. Smith said heavy rain was falling at the time of the collision.

The man was struck and seriously injured. He was taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, where he remained in critical condition Friday evening.

The rain also caused some minor flooding Friday in other parts of Kansas. Smith said water had covered a road in western Butler County, but most other roads were still passable. He said an elderly couple who drove into water covering a road in Hutchinson earlier Friday got stuck and had to be rescued when their car stalled.

Rain also delayed play throughout the day Friday at the NCAA men’s golf championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson. Play was finally suspended about 6 p.m. It was scheduled to resume Saturday morning.

The National Weather Service reported Friday afternoon that some roads in McPherson were being barricaded due to high water. High water also was reported in other areas of McPherson County.

Spotty thunderstorms are in the forecast through Tuesday, forecasters say. The rain could be heavy, too.

AccuWeather described them as “flooding downpours” for most of the Central Plains through the holiday weekend. That could lead to some street flooding if the heavy rains park over an urban area such as they did late Thursday night and early Friday morning, Smith said.

Saturday looks to be a wet day across a wide swath of the Wichita area, he said, while the rest of the holiday weekend figures to feature spotty thunderstorms.

Highs will reach the low 80s throughout the weekend, with periods of sunshine between thunderstorms. Tornadoes – so often a threat in late May in Kansas – are not anticipated with any of the storms.

“You could get a strong storm that gets a little rowdy” this weekend, Smith said. Those storms may feature some hail as large as nickels, he said, but nothing more ominous than that.

More than 2 inches of rain is predicted for south-central Kansas over the next five days, weather officials say. That figure is even higher closer to the Oklahoma state line.

The weekend rain will be welcome, considering it’s projected for an area in extreme or exceptional drought. Nearly half of Kansas is in extreme or exceptional drought, including all of far western Kansas and most of the western two-thirds of the southern half of the state.

Contributing: Associated Press

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