Archive for Sunday, June 16, 1991

STORM RAGES THROUGH AREA

June 16, 1991

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A rampaging thunderstorm that carried lightning, hail, 50 mph winds and about two inches of rain knocked out electric power to many homes and flooded streets Saturday in Lawrence.

The storm also swamped two boats at Clinton Lake and forced a small plane to make an unscheduled landing at Lawrence Municipal Airport.

A tornado reportedly was spotted at about 3:35 p.m. on the ground five miles southwest of Eudora. But the tornado apparently went back into the clouds without causing any damage, according to Gary LaDuke, Douglas County sheriff's officer.

Bill Long, Eudora police chief, said the sirens were sounded when the tornado was reported.

"None of our spotters saw it," Long said. "We got some wind and heavy rain."

LADUKE SAID county officials were watching for potential flooding of Washington Creek near the city of Lone Star, about six miles southwest of Lawrence.

"We are kind of keeping our eyes on it because it is pretty high," he said. "If it doesn't rain much more, they were thinking it should be OK for the rest of the night."

A tornado also was spotted at about 2:35 p.m. in eastern Leavenworth County. However, a Leavenworth County sheriff's spokesman said there was no reported damage.

Bill Seidel, east region superintendent for KPL Gas Service, said electricity was knocked out to about 6,000 to 7,000 electric customers during the peak of the storm. Most of the customers affected were in central and west-central Lawrence.

The majority of customers had service restored by about 8 p.m., with the remainder expected to be restored by midnight, he said.

"We had a good number of scattered outages, pretty much across the community," Seidel said. "We had no serious problems. We had a lot of tree limbs on lines that caused line fuses to open, causing scattered pockets of outages."

DENNIS KNIPFER, general manager at Sunflower Cablevision, said he didn't have much information Saturday night on how many customers lost cable services. However, he said crews were expected to finish restoring service by late Saturday night.

The major brunt of the storm hit Lawrence at about 3 p.m. and brought 50 to 60 mph winds, sheets of rain, hail, lightning and heavy winds, said Kevin Polston, a Kansas University weather observer.

"The trees were bending over, and there were up to three-quarter-inch size and even up to one-inch size hail coming in spurts," Polston said.

Jeff Fagan, line service employee for Hetrick Aircraft and also a KU meteorology student, said 30-35 mph winds were clocked at Lawrence Municipal Airport, with pea-sized to marble-sized hail.

Fagan said a small plane, a Cessna 140, made an unscheduled landing during the storm "and they barely made it."

HE SAID the two people in the plane left shortly after the storm passed.

Amy Waibel, manager of Clinton Lake Marina, said that although there were many people on the lake when the storm came up, nearly all of them were able to get out before high winds and rain hit.

One boat that was in the dock was swamped by high waves and rain, but it was recovered from the water, Waibel said. Another boat that was swamped out on the lake was able to make it to shore, she said. She said there were no injuries in either incident.

"We had a lot of wind and rough water," she said. "The majority of people saw it coming."

Waibel said the storm brought two inches of rain and 50 mph winds.

Polson said that as he drove from his home near 15th Street and Crestline, some limbs from trees were down in western Lawrence.

There was major street flooding down on 23rd Street," he said. "It was 2 to three feet deep and up to the bottom of cars."

He said the rain gauge at the KU weather observatory at Malott Hall showed two inches from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the temperature fell from 88 to 65 in the first half hour.

THE HAIL, although small in size, was fairly intense in eastern Lawrence and reminded some residents of the large hailstorm that hit Lawrence in late March.

"It really was almost like we had in the last storm, said Tim Gillesse, 1328 N.H. "My deck was covered for awhile."

Gillesse said the hail was fairly small pea-sized and smaller but it lasted for 10 to 15 minutes.

"I was really surprised," he said.

He said leaves and small branches were stripped from trees and shrubbery, littering the ground.

"I don't think it was bad enough to do anything to shingles, and I don't think anyone had any broken glass," he said. "But it sure came on like that other storm."

RAY LONG, a Eudora weather observer, said that although the tornado sirens were sounded in the city, the storm that passed through Eudora was "an ordinary thunderstorm." Long said his rain gauge showed 0.4 inch for the storm and that he saw no hail.

Mark Elston, who has an 18-acre farm about 15 miles southwest of Lawrence near Globe, said it started raining at his home about 3:20 p.m. and pea- to marble-sized hail fell for about 30 minutes. He said his rain gauge measured 5 inches.

"We had very high winds for a good half hour," he said. He said his farm experienced mainly water damage to his hay.

"We were getting ready to bale it next week. It's all down now," he said.

MARLA BARNES, an employee at Perry Lake Marina, said the lake experienced mainly heavy rain, with not much in the way of high winds. She said she didn't know how much rain fell at the lake.

Mike Henning, a correctional officer for the Jefferson County sheriff's department, said a second storm front that came through at about 6 p.m. brought marble-sized hail through the Lake Perry area.

Leo Pollard, a Lecompton weather observer, said it rained 0.79 of an inch by 6 p.m. at his home, with most of the rain coming from the second storm.

Walter Schwarz, a Worden weather observer, said he measured about 2.83 inches as of about 8 p.m., with the hardest rain coming between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

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