At least one person was injured as damaging tornadoes raked central Kansas on Tuesday night, authorities said.
The person was hurt in the historic hamlet of Pawnee Rock, which took a glancing blow from a tornado, Barton County public information officer Donna Zimmerman said.
“There were multiple homes that were leveled,” Zimmerman said Wednesday morning.
Zimmerman said the Barton County sheriff reported that between 8 to 10 homes were destroyed in the storm. They were mostly in a rural area between Pawnee Rock and Hoisington, she said.
Authorities set up a shelter at the municipal auditorium in Great Bend for people displaced by the tornadoes.
A gas line west of Pawnee Rock and a high-voltage line northwest of Great Bend were damaged by tornadoes, Zimmerman said, and crews were assessing what it will take to repair them.
“There were issues with a lot of downed power lines,” she added.
Zimmerman said they were discouraging residents from travel inside the county both for their safety and so that county employees can spend time with rescue and damage assessment rather than traffic control.
“They’re just cautioning traffic this morning and to be cautious of downed power lines,” she said.
Large hail and at least four tornadoes were reported Tuesday night as strong storms pounded parts of the Sunflower State.
The Pawnee Rock damage included numerous street signs and power poles and trees – both on the edge of town and at the nearby cemetery, a resident of the area said. Preliminary reports indicated there was damage on top of the large stone that gave the town its name and served as a key landmark for travelers of the Santa Fe Trail in the 1800s.
A later tornado produced by the same storm caused damage west of Hoisington shortly before 8:30 p.m., but the city was spared.
Multiple tornadoes reported
No damage was reported with a rain-wrapped tornado just northwest of Bucklin in Ford County, officials said. A fourth tornado was reported near Susank in northern Barton County, but there were no reports of damage from it as of Wednesday morning.
Other multiple funnel clouds were reported, though none of them reached the ground.
Hail as large as teacups, or 3 inches in diameter, was reported in Holcomb in Finney County and northwest of Englewood in Meade County. A storm in Clark County dropped baseball- and tennis ball-sized hail several miles south of Minneola. Strong winds caused damage in southern Pawnee County, authorities said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Jakub said a Wichita-based survey team was leaving Wednesday morning to assess the damage in Barton County.
Jakub said there was a report of hail Wednesday morning in Lincoln County.
NWS meteorologist Jeff Hutton said the Dodge City office would send out a crew to look for damage in their coverage area, mainly southwest Kansas.
“We’re sure there’s going to be something there,” he said.
Still more strong storms are expected in south-central Kansas on Thursday, forecasters said.