2017: Tennis-ball-size hail pounds WaKeeney
Update: 8:20 p.m.
A second landspout tornado has been reported, the National Weather Service reports.
A brief landspout tornado touched down in open country at around 7:50 p.m. and lasted less than a minute about seven miles north of Eureka in Greenwood County, the NWS reports.
Update: 7:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Wichita area.
Meteorologists say the warning was issued due to radar indications and includes parts of Sedgwick, Butler and Sumner counties. The storms may lead to damage.
“Hail damage to vehicles is expected,” the weather service warning states. “Expect wind damage to roofs, siding, and trees.”
Update: 6:50 p.m.
A landspout tornado reportedly was on the ground for about four minutes in Sumner County.
A storm chaser reported through the National Weather Service that a landspout touched down about 5 miles northwest of Wellington. The weather service reported that the landspout tornado was on the ground from about 6:38 p.m. to about 6:42 p.m.
A landspout is a type of non-supercell tornado that generally causes damage of EF2 or less, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“A landspout is a tornado with a narrow, rope-like condensation funnel that forms while the thunderstorm cloud is still growing and there is no rotating updraft — the spinning motion originates near the ground,” the government agency states.
Update, 4:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch through midnight for the Wichita area and much of south central and southeast Kansas.
Forecasters with the Wichita branch of the weather service issued the watch, which includes threats of possible tornadoes, Widespread hail of up to tennis ball size is expected and scattered wind gusts of up to 70 mph are likely. The area includes a population of 1.4 million people.
Update, 3 p.m.
The city of Wichita says storm water crews will be working overnight due to predicted rainfall.
The work crews will be out from about 4 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, Wichita city staff wrote in a tweet. The city workers expect 1.3 inches of rain spread out over an eight-hour period, with the heaviest rain between 8 p.m. and midnight.
Update, 2:15 p.m.
Pilots are evacuating 13 aircraft from McConnell Air Force Base due to a potential for severe weather.
The aircraft are being evacuated to Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington, 2nd Lt. Daniel de La Fe said in a news release. Fairchild is a “safe haven” base, he said, which will be out of danger from the storm and can house displaced McConnell personnel while providing maintenance for the aircraft.
McConnell personnel are not being evacuated from the base.
Hail the size of quarters and golf balls could strike Wichita and the surrounding areas tonight, meteorologists with the National Weather Service warned.
“Strong to severe storms are expected late this afternoon and evening, with the greatest threat across south central and southeast Kansas,” according to the NWS Hazardous Weather Outlook.
“The main risk will be large hail up to golf ball size, though locally damaging wind gusts to 65 mph will also be possible in the evening,” the outlook continued. “Locally heavy rainfall will also occur this evening across south central and southeast Kansas which may result in minor lowland or urban flooding.”
Those storms are expected to hit south central and southeast Kansas though Wednesday afternoon and evening, NWS Wichita says. In Wichita, the storm isn’t predicted to hit until 6 p.m.
Just north of Wichita, dime-size hail and 50 mph winds are possible.
Looking forward, NWS predicts that “periodic chances for thunderstorms will return to the forecast Easter Sunday afternoon through early next week.”
While “a few strong storms will be possible” throughout the week, the severe weather risk “appears low for now,” meteorologists said in the outlook.