Strong winds peel off building roofs in Butler County

Winds as strong as 75 miles an hour tore roofs from buildings in Butler County, thanks to an isolated thunderstorm that fired up southwest of Wichita Wednesday night.

The thunderstorm didn’t bring much rain to the Wichita metropolitan area – only .08 of an inch fell at the National Weather Service’s official recording station next to Mid-Continent Airport – but there were several reports in Sedgwick, Butler and Sumner counties of winds between 60 and 70 miles an hour. The Viola Fire Department reported 75 mile-an-hour winds just before 7 p.m.

“It was one of those you’re not expecting,” said Scott Smith, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the weather service. “Everything came together just right for it to build.”

Winds of about 70 miles an hour peeled the roof off the recreation center building in Rose Hill, officials said, and two barns lost their roofs about two miles east of Rose Hill. Numerous trees, fences and tree limbs were reported down in Rose Hill, and a tree fell on a house in the town, damaging windows and siding.

Strong winds were also reported near Clearwater in Sumner County. The heaviest rain reported from the storm, Smith said, was 1.67 inches in Conway Springs.

“It was a lone thunderstorm that popped up and sat in Harper County for a while, and then slowly moved east-northeast,” bringing strong winds with it, Smith said.

In other words, he said, it was a classic late-summer thunderstorm.