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Roads closed in Wichita as heavy rains expected to ‘aggravate’ flooding, NWS warns

Tranquil Kansas waterfall turns into raging torrent after heavy rains

The waterfall at Cowley County State Fishing Lake near Arkansas City is normally a trickle of water over a rock ledge. Recent heavy rains have turned it into a raging waterfall.
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The waterfall at Cowley County State Fishing Lake near Arkansas City is normally a trickle of water over a rock ledge. Recent heavy rains have turned it into a raging waterfall.

Heavy rains are expected to “aggravate the flooding situation” in central, south-central and southeast Kansas throughout Tuesday, according to the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

“Numerous showers and thunderstorms will continue for most of today,” the Hazardous Weather Outlook says. “While some thunderstorms may produce penny-sized hail and 40 to 50 mph winds, the greatest threat is that of heavy rains...”

This rain comes after the greater Wichita area received between 3 and 5 inches of rain Monday and through the night, NWS forecaster Roger Martin told the Eagle. South-central Kansas received between 4-7 inches of rain, he said.

Parts of Cowley County had 6.7 inches of rain as of Tuesday morning, and parts of Elk County had 7.8 inches of rain, according to the NWS local storm reports.

The heaviest rainfall hit in areas along and east of the turnpike, Martin said.

Wichita and the surrounding areas are under a flood warning, while southeast Kansas is under a flash-flood warning.

Martin said the heaviest rain fell over the last 24 hours, and it is expected to start winding down.

Still, “it won’t take much for additional flooding,” he said.

As of 9:30 a.m. in Wichita, the following streets were closed to due to flooding: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Central, Lewis, Waterman, English and Bleckley, 8th and Harding, and Douglas at Bleckley.

Pawnee is closed at Sheridan and Edwards, Meridian is shut down from Douglas to Maple, and Murdock is closed from Batting to Harding.

Scattered rain and showers are expected to bring no more than half an inch to an inch of water today, Martin said.

The coming rain could bring record flooding to the Little Arkansas river in Sedgwick, Halstead and Alta Mill; the Arkansas river in Haven, Derby and Mulvane; the Smoky Hill river in New Cambria; Mulberry Creek in Salina; and Cow Creek in Hutchinson.

In southeast Kansas, Trooper Rick Wingate warned that there is a lot of flooding in the area.

“Turn your lights on, slow down, and don’t drive through water across the road,” he said after a crash in flooded water.

Harvey County Undersheriff Shawn Chapman said the steady rainfall has led to flooding on county roads — and many have been closed — but no injuries or stalled vehicles have been reported as of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“We had people trying to ignore barricades or drive through standing water with the flooding earlier this month. I cannot stress enough how dangerous that is,” Chapman said in a news release. “People have got to take the danger of flooded roads seriously. Find a different route.”

Lt. Justin Parks with the Ark City Fire Department said firefighters rescued one person from a home after water levels started to rise and trap them inside just before 10 a.m. Tuesday.

In Wichita, overnight storm water crews cleared 282 clogged inlets and inspected over 1,000, according to a tweet from the city.

“All pump stations, and Lincoln Street Dam are operating normally,” the city said.

Dave Davis with Plumbing Pros has “never seen anything like this” and he’s extremely busy fixing sump pumps.

“What’s great is that people are finding out if their basements ever leak because if it doesn’t leak now it never will,” he said.

Looking forward, Martin said area residents can expect some rain throughout the next five to seven days as we’re “still in a pretty active (weather) pattern.”

Be prepared and safe during a power outage with these three following tips.

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