A heavy thunderstorms that roared through Lawrence late Monday night and early this morning dumped small hail and more than three inches of rain on the city, swelling creek banks, flooding basements and closing roads.
The storms also carried with them all the necessary elements for a tornado, causing the National Weather Service to issue a tornado watch from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. today. The weather service also issued a flash-flood warning for Douglas County and six other Kansas counties.
A dispatcher at the Kansas Highway Patrol in Topeka said late this morning that U.S. Highway 59 was closed from the Baldwin Junction about 10 miles south of Lawrence to the Douglas-Franklin County line.
A Douglas County Sheriff's Department dispatcher also said this morning that Brown's Grove Road south of 31st Street was closed for about a mile near the Wakarusa River bridge because of high water. The dispatcher said that numerous other roads in the county had been barricaded as well, because of water on the roads.
THE SHERIFF'S dispatcher also said the town of Lone Star was beginning to flood and that the floodwaters were nearing homes. However, authorities had no plans to evacuate the town as of 12:30 p.m. today.
The sheriff's department and Lawrence police this morning reported that several cars had stalled because of the rain, but no weather-related accidents had been reported.
However, local plumbers said the rains had caused several accidents in their area of expertise.
Roy Chaney, owner of Chaney Plumbing in Lawrence, said this morning that he had recieved 10 to 15 calls this morning from people whose basements were full of water.
Matt Foster, a forecaster at the Kansas University Weather Service, said about 10:30 a.m. today that Lawrence had received 3.06 inches of rain since 7 a.m. Monday. The rains were expected to be scattered across the area for the rest of the day but were expected to end by tonight.
WEDNESDAY is predicted to be partly cloudy with a high temperature of 78 degrees, Foster said. Thursday should be sunny with a high of 72.
Foster said the storms were the result of moist, warm air from the Gulf of Mexico meeting up with a weather front containing cool, dry air just south Lawrence. As the two meet, the warm, moist air is cooled as it is forced upward. Cool air cannot hold as much water as warm air, so the moisture is squeezed from the sky in the form of rain.
T.A. Mindrup, district manager for KPL Gas Service, the utility that supplies Lawrence with electricity, said about noon today that his office had received constant reports of small electrical outages as a result of the storms.
Mindrup estimated that lightning had caused about 50 separate power outages, each leaving five to 25 customers without electrictiy. Work crews were dispatched about 2:30 a.m. today and were still working to restore power at noon, he said.
MINDRUP said lightning that accompanied the storm struck power lines, causing line fuses to shut down in an effort to protect equipment.
Employees of Riverside Grade School reported the school was without power this morning but electricity was restored about 9 a.m., Mindrup said.
Mindrup said the storms that caused the outages also were hampering efforts to repair their damage.
Betty Metsker, who lives south of Lone Star on Douglas County Road 1039, said this morning that rains hit the area hard this morning.
"When I looked out across the corn fields this morning, it looked like an Olympic swimming pool. I think we could have gone swimming had we been so inclined," Mrs. Metsker said.
SanDe Fishburn, who lives one mile west of the town of Lone Star on Douglas County Road No. 1, said this morning that she remembers June 1988 when a downpour caused nearby Washington Creek to flood, filling her home with 42 inches of water.
FISHBURN said her memories of the 1988 flood had caused her to move some of her belongings to higher ground this morning. She said the water closed in on her house this morning, but had subsided about a foot shortly after noon. She did not know how much more rain the low-lying area near her house could take before the water reached her house.
Rainfall amounts reported from around the Lawrence area this morning were: Clinton Lake, 1.02 inches as of 8 a.m.; Worden, 4.12 as of 9 a.m.; Eudora, 2.38 as of 9:30 a.m.; Lecompton, .55 as of 11 a.m.; Perry Lake, .63 as of 8 a.m.
Perry Lake, where normal water level is 891.50 feet above sea level, this morning reported a water level of 893.90 feet. Clinton Lake reported a lake level of 877.96 feet, compared to its normal level of 875.50 feet.