Severe weather spotters will be activated again today if an ugly twin of Thursday's storm, which produced at least three funnel clouds in Douglas County, moves within two counties of here.
The Kansas University Weather Service predicts a 70 percent chance of more thunderstorms tonight. The low temperature should be about 64, and winds should be from the south at 10-20 mph.
The Douglas County Emergency Preparedness Department is monitoring all weather resources for dangerous weather cells, and associate coordinator Jim Murray has 75 feet of teletype to piece together all the details of Thursday's storms, which dumped 1.35 inches of rain on Lawrence between 7 a.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. today.
Murray said a quarter-mile-wide tornado traveled along the ground for a mile just northwest of Pleasant Grove. He said a spotter at Zarco Oil, 1 miles south of Pleasant Grove, reported the twister about 7:45 p.m. Thursday.
So far, no serious damage or injuries have been reported, he said.
THE COUNTY dispatched 23 spotters, who were able to track the storm from the county's southern border, said Dennis Bonebrake, a member of Skywarn. Skywarn is the local volunteer group that chases and reports severe weather.
"There were funnels aloft and in rotation, which later was confirmed by the National Weather Service as a hook echo," Bonebrake said. Tornado-generating storms often have a hook shape on weather radar.
The storm moved north along U.S. Highway 59, then veered east as it began to enter Lawrence, then north again into Leavenworth County, he said.
Spotters also reported funnel clouds aloft near Clinton Lake and just west of Eudora.
Tom Jerome, Nottingham Elementary School principal, said about 500 people parents and children took shelter in the school's locker rooms when a funnel turned toward Eudora.
THE FIRST AND second grades were in the middle of a musical program there and had to stop the show two songs short. A local police officer was posted at the school and kept Jerome informed.
"I just felt so good that we knew exactly what was happening," Jerome said.
"The kids just did marvelous," he said. "The biggest question they had was, `When are we going to finish our program?' "
Lightning strikes kept Lawrence firefighters busy Thursday, although no fires resulted. Strikes were reported at 19th and Iowa and on the Kansas University campus at Malott and Wescoe halls.
Brad Tate, Lawrence High School principal, reported flickering lights, a sizzling noise and a "hot electrical-wire odor" at the school's office. He said the phone system also went out.
Firefighters traced the burning smell to an intercom system.
ALTHOUGH Douglas County escaped tornado damage, the same wasn't true for Leavenworth County.
Lori Willey, secretary for the Leavenworth County Emergency Operations Center, said a tornado that touched down north of Tonganoxie blew the roofs off 10 barns and damaged several trees.
Willey said the tornado hit about 9 p.m., shortly after authorities sounded emergency sirens. Tonganoxie is about 15 miles northeast of Lawrence.
"When that tornado touched down, we had four funnels that we were watching," Willey said, adding that 45 spotters were tracking the storm system. "We activated the sirens before it went to the ground. It was treetop level when the sirens went off."
SEVERAL TORNADOES touched down in other areas of northeastern Kansas early Thursday evening and authorities watched more twisters that had not landed. No injuries were reported.
In Wabaunsee County, at least three twisters touched down in open pastures starting about 5:40 p.m., said a sheriff's dispatcher who did not want to be identified.
One tornado touched down about two miles north of Eskridge and continued moving north-northeast, the dispatcher said. Another touched down about three miles north of Harveyville moving north-northeast, and what was believed to be the same twister touched down again about three miles west of Keene, the dispatcher said.
A fourth tornado in Wabaunsee County was spotted touching down about a mile south of Maple Hill, the dispatcher said. The twister caused ``cosmetic damage'' to a house and outbuildings and overturned one vehicle and a horse trailer, the dispatcher said. No injuries were reported.
WABAUNSEE COUNTY was all clear about 7:30, the dispatcher said.
At least two funnel clouds were spotted in Shawnee County about 5:45 p.m., said a sheriff's dispatcher who did not want to be identified. No touchdowns were reported. The twisters passed near Rossville and Silver Lake, he said.
A tornado in Nemaha County touched down about 5:45 p.m. near Corning and moved northward, covering about a quarter-mile-wide swath until it passed into Nebraska about 6:30 p.m., a sheriff's dispatcher said. The twister caused some damage to farms, homes and outbuildings, but no injuries were reported, the dispatcher said.
A tornado was reported on the ground near Leona in Doniphan County at 7:20 p.m., the National Weather Service reported.
A twister also was spotted in Atchison County near Effingham about 7:25 p.m., the weather service said.
The Atchison County tornado had not touched down and no injuries had been reported, a sheriff's dispatcher said.