Weather News

20 semis reportedly blown over across Ellis County, I-70 closed as storm hits Kansas

A portion of the interstate in northwest Kansas has been closed after a storm hitting the western half of the state has blown over multiple semis and power lines.

Ellis County dispatchers said 20 semis had reportedly been blown over across the county and the Kansas Highway Patrol reported a high voltage power line blown over semis, according to a National Weather Service local storm report. The Kansas Department of Transportation said the interstate highway has been closed.

“I-70 is closed between Wakeeney and Hays due to powerlines down and semi trucks blowing over because of the storm,” Trooper Tod Hileman said in a tweet. “I don’t know about secondary roads but it is likely they are shut down also.”

The Phillips County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that Ellis County had “suffered severe storm damage.” The Hays Police Department said in a Facebook post that storm had caused high waters, downed power lines, debris and hazards in the roadways and power outages across the city.

A Midwest Energy power outage map showed 64 outages across western Kansas affecting 7,644 customers as of 10:30 p.m. The Hays area had the most customers without power.

Ellis County Kansas Fire and Emergency Management said in a Facebook post that USD 489, the Hays public school district, canceled Wednesday’s scheduled first day of classes.

“Several areas throughout Ellis County have received large amounts of rainfall causing flooding, and wind damage as well,” emergency management officials said in a Facebook post. “Please stay away from any danger areas. All public safety crews are out handling incidents as best as they can. Please do not create any further emergencies by going into any unsafe areas. It is best to just stay home for the evening. Thank you.”

One weather station at Hays Regional Airport recorded a 77 mph wind gust at around 7:55 p.m., according to NWS reports. Another report from the Hays area said that “a roof (was) taken off of a church and landed on a vehicle in the parking lot.”

Other reports include flash flooding on streets in Oakley and Colby, and flooding on roads near Hill City and Jennings. Near Traer, 2-inch hail was reported, and hail stones the size of golf balls fell in Syracuse.

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