Another day, another chance for showers and thunderstorms in the Wichita area.
But any showers that move through early Friday will be nothing like Thursday morning’s storms, which brought hail nearly the size of grapefruits, strong winds and heavy rains to south-central Kansas just before dawn.
Strong storms also battered northern Kansas, officials said. More than 2,000 Westar Energy customers in Salina and 1,000 in Topeka were still without power late Thursday, a spokesman for the utility said.
It could be 7 p.m. Friday before power is restored to customers in Salina, Westar’s Leonard Allen said, where outages were triggered by high winds that flattened 24 utility poles.
High winds knocked down numerous electric lines in Topeka, Allen said, and it will be about 5 p.m. Friday before affected customers in Topeka regain electricity. As many as 12,000 Westar customers around Kansas were without power at one point or another Thursday due to the strong storms, he said.
That included about 1,000 in the Wichita area early Thursday morning – most of them in west or southwest Wichita. With more storms in the forecast through the weekend, Allen said, more outages are possible.
Friday’s best chances for rain in the Wichita area will come after dark, said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the weather service. Scattered showers are possible any time from mid-afternoon on, he said, but heavy rain won’t likely come until late in the evening.
Rainfall amounts varied markedly in Wichita, National Weather Service meteorologist Vanessa Pearce said. The official reporting station next to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport logged .88 of an inch, while Jabara Airport in northeast Wichita reported 1.21 inches.
Vehicles were stalled at Meridian and 31st Street South due to high water, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. Early commuters had to pull over due to heavy rains at times.
Farther north, McPherson recorded 2.62 inches, with 3 inches reported a few miles outside of McPherson. Hail an estimated 3 1/4 inches in diameter fell in McPherson as well.
“That’s between a tea cup and grapefruit,” Pearce said.
Hail larger than an inch in diameter was reported just outside Haysville shortly after 6 a.m.
Winds of more than 70 miles an hour – nearly hurricane strength – were reported in Kansas City, Kan., and tree limb damage was reported in Lindsborg.
Hillsboro logged 2.53 inches of rain and more than an inch of rain fell in the Leon area of Butler County in 40 minutes leading up to 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.