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Tornado watch issued for Wichita and central Kansas. Apple-sized hail likely, NWS says

Watch as sunset thunderstorm moves along the Kansas Turnpike

A time-lapse of a severe thunderstorm moving along the Kansas Turnpike near Cassoday.
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A time-lapse of a severe thunderstorm moving along the Kansas Turnpike near Cassoday.

Update, 10 p.m.:

In the Wichita area, storm spotters reported funnel clouds in Sedgwick and Butler counties between about 7:15 and 7:45 p.m., the National Weather Service said.

In Osage County, at around 5:11 p.m., debris was being thrown from a possible tornado about 6 miles south of Osage City, the weather service said.

In northeast Kansas, at least 12 people were injured after a tornado hit Lawrence and Linwood.

Update, 7 p.m.:

A tornado was reported in Jewell County, the weather service said. Reports included one of a rain-wrapped tornado about 3 miles south of Jewell at around 6:12 p.m., and a report 8 minutes later of a tornado about 5 miles south of Formoso.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

A “confirmed large tornado in progress” was reported in Mitchell County, the National Weather Service said. It was reported about 5 miles southwest of Tipton at around 5:52 p.m.

A “confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” was reported in Douglas County, the weather service said. The twister was in the area of Lone Star and Pleasant Grove, southwest of Lawrence, and moving northeast as of about 6:14 p.m.

Update, 5:30 p.m.:

The National Weather Service said a storm chaser reported a tornado in Russell County. The twister touched down at around 5:21 p.m. near the intersections of highways U.S. 281 and K-18 between Paradise and Waldo.

Update, 5 p.m.:

Funnel clouds and a landspout tornado were reported in Ellis County, the National Weather Service said in local storm reports. The landspout tornado was reported at around 4:15 p.m. about 7 miles south of Hays.

Trooper Tod Hileman of the Kansas Highway Patrol said in a tweet that funnel clouds could be seen by another trooper, who was parked along I-70 in Hays. The cloud that produced the funnels continued northeast of the city.

In Elk and Reno counties, the sheriff’s offices reported vehicle stuck on country roads that had been damaged by floods.

“I cannot think of a better picture for ‘Turn around, don’t drown,’” the Reno County Sheriff’s Office said in a post.

An attached photo showed a pickup truck stuck in water that reached up to the windows. The driver survived and is OK, the sheriff’s office said.

“Road closed signs are placed for a reason,” the Elk County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

Photos in the post showed the road closed sign, as well as a FedEx van stuck on the damaged road just before an impassable low water bridge.

Original story:

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for the Wichita area and much of central Kansas through Tuesday night.

The watch runs through 10 p.m., and the weather service says a few tornadoes are likely. Scattered wind gusts may reach up to 70 mph, and scattered hail up to the size of an apple is likely.

Meteorologists warn that any rain will add to the widespread river flooding throughout the region, The Eagle reported.

The predicted storms come during an unusually wet May for Kansas.

In Wichita, this is the second-wettest May on record since 1888, the weather service has said. The city has received 12.59 inches of rainfall at Eisenhower National Airport, less than an inch short of 13.4 inches received in May 2008 — the wettest May on record.

“Kansas is facing historic flooding due to record rainfall during the month of May,” Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement. “We continue to monitor this serious situation and work closely with our local, state and federal partners to ensure Kansans impacted by flooding have the resources and support they need. At times like this, it is critical that we put safety first and heed warnings from local officials. We must also look out for our friends and neighbors who are facing many challenges.”

Kelly has declared states of disaster in 49 of 105 Kansas counties due to flooding and has asked President Donald Trump for an emergency declaration. Emergency declarations authorize state and federal governments to assist local emergency crews with resources and personnel for response and recovery operations.

Counties included in the declaration are: Allen, Anderson, Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Franklin, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Hodgeman, Jefferson, Kingman, Lincoln, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Rush, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson.

Widespread river flooding is expected to continue through the week. More information on travel alerts for flooded highways is available online from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Officials have started releasing water from some state lakes and reservoirs as water levels rise. At Perry Lake, where 5,000 cubic feet of water per second is being released, the rate would fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in less than 18 seconds, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management said.

Photos and videos of storms and damage can be submitted to The Eagle online at www.kansas.com/customer-service/submit-photo/.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

A tornado touched down near Dodge City, Kansas, on May 5. This video shows the tornado on the ground in Howell. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning and severe thunderstorm warnings.

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