“With less than 3 minutes gone in the first quarter, officials halted play because of lightning accompanying a heavy storm bearing down on the area. Dark, boiling, ominous-looking clouds rarely seen on the Great Plains seemed to envelop the stadium before heavy rains pelted the area and caused a delay… of 1 hour, 26 minutes.”
That was from an Associated Press story about Kansas State’s last-minute victory over Central Florida in Manhattan on Saturday. It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t taking a drink as I read it, because I probably would have spewed it all over my laptop’s keyboard.
I happened to have the game on when the storm was bearing down on the stadium, shortly before the delay occurred, and saw pictures of it on the screen. Impressive storm, I thought. Nice shelf cloud. But “clouds rarely seen on the Great Plains”? Hardly.
Friends at the game were awestruck by what they saw, though, so I talked to National Weather Service meteorologists about the storm, which delayed the game for nearly 90 minutes.
“It looked like a very typical Kansas thunderstorm,” said Brad Ketcham, who works in the Wichita office of the weather service. “It was just very dramatic. What made it a little different is that it happened that early in the morning and it was witnessed by so many people. It looked so menacing.”
The storm produced a lot of lightning, winds of as much as 60 miles an hour, and a bit of tree damage in Wabaunsee County, said Jared Leighton, a meteorologist in the Topeka office of the weather service.
“It was just marginally severe,” Leighton said.
Yet it sure looked mean, and in the days following the game photos and video of the storm have been making the rounds in cyberspace.
“If that same storm had happened out in the middle of the county, we wouldn't be talking about it,” Ketcham said.
But a captive audience of more than 50,000 people – along with television cameras – couldn’t miss it, so the storm is now a star.