Storm brings lightning, inch of rain to Wichita area

Wichita grabbed a badly needed gulp of rain Friday, and more could fall today.

That delighted gardeners and wheat farmers.

"It was a good rain," said Gary Cramer, Sedgwick County Extension agent. "It's going to stop the slide in test weights and fill the grains better.

"We'll have bigger, plumper kernels now."

Still, even after Friday morning's rain that arrived with lightning that caused power outages and a house fire, Wichita was nearly 4 inches short of the normal amount of precipitation for this time of year.

The storm that lasted for a little more than two hours — just as folks were leaving for work or school between 6 and 8 a.m. —officially left 1.14 inches of rain at Mid-Continent Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Some farmers in Sedgwick County told Cramer they received as much as 3 inches.

But going into Friday night — and there was a possibility of more thunderstorms then — the official measurement showed Wichita was still 3.97 inches behind the normal precipitation amount for this time of year, 9.54 inches.

More rain may be on the way. The forecast says there's a chance Wichita will see a strong thunderstorm this afternoon. After a sunny Sunday, another round of storms could come through Monday or Tuesday.

"We're in a rainy period right now," said Leon Wasinger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, "but we've been waiting for it for a long time."

Friday morning's rain was the first time the airport recorded at least an inch since 1.19 fell on April 25. No more than .12 had fallen in any 24-hour period since then.

Some areas of the county have received more rain over the past week to 10 days. Cramer said a farmer in the northwest part of the county near Bentley had received more than 3 inches of rain over that period before Friday's storm.

"I hope more is on the way," Cramer said. "We'll take it as we can get it."

Friday's lightning created power outages to about 400 Westar Energy customers scattered around the city. Power was restored to all customers by early Friday afternoon, Westar spokesman Nick Bundy said.

Lightning was responsible for a house fire that was reported about 8 a.m. Friday in the 4100 block of North Lake Ridge Court, north of 29th Street near Tyler Road. The fire was brought under control "fairly quickly," Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said.

Estimated damage was $45,000, Crisp said. There were no injuries.

Looking further ahead on the weather, Memorial Day weekend is expected to be sunny with temperatures in the mid-80s and low 90s on May 28 and 29. Memorial Day is expected to be cooler with a high in the upper 70s.

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