Archive for Friday, August 19, 2011

Severe storms leave thousands without power in Douglas County

More than 5,000 without power as storms move through area

August 19, 2011, 12:00 a.m. Updated August 19, 2011, 3:08 a.m.


Kansas weather updates, via Twitter

3:07 a.m. update

If you're in Douglas County and still without power, you're not alone. There are still more than 3,000 county customers with the lights off.

2:20 a.m. update

After several hours, the number of Douglas County residents without power is finally beginning to drop. At one point, nearly 7,000 Westar Energy customers reported losing power. As of 2:20 a.m., that number was only slightly above 4,300. There is currently no estimated time for full power restoration.

12:56 a.m. update

The National Weather Service has canceled the severe thunderstorm watch for Douglas County an hour early, but not before the storm system worked its way across the county. Nearly 7,000 residents are still without power, the result of lightning and high winds that took out trees and power lines alike.

There is currently no time frame for power restoration, but Westar crews are out addressing the issues.

12:42 a.m. update

Even with the storm mostly through the county, power outage reports continue to roll in. Currently more than 6,300 county residents are sitting in the dark.

12:32 a.m. update

The warning has been allowed to expire, but the severe thunderstorm watch for Douglas County remains in effect until 2 a.m. Westar Energy crews are currently working to restore power to more than 6,000 county customers who are currently without.

12:05 a.m. update

From a noise standpoint the storm seems to be nearly over in Douglas County. There are still more than 5,200 Westar Energy customers reporting that the power is out.

Emergency crews continue to respond to reports of power lines that are either arcing, sparking or down completely. There has also been a report of high water in the roadway. Drive with caution if you find yourself needing to be on the roads.

The severe thunderstorm warning should be allowed to expire at its current 12:30 a.m. deadline.

11:44 p.m. update

A few minutes ago the National Weather Service extended the severe thunderstorm warning currently in effect for the county. The new expiration time is 12:30 a.m. Friday. The storm has left more than 5,100 county residents without power.

The storm has produced damaging winds and heavy rain along with reported hail. Numerous reports of downed and arcing power lines continue to keep Douglas County emergency dispatchers busy. Emergency fire crews have been dispatched to deal with potentially dangerous power lines while the rain continues to pound the county.

The storm, which extends from Topeka to Lawrence, is picking up speed, now moving south at 65 miles per hour.

11:32 p.m. update

The number of reported power lines down seems to have something to do with the number of outages continuing to rise. There are currently more than 5,000 people in Douglas County reportedly without power.

The main areas seem to be near 23rd Street and Kasold Drive as well as near Sixth and Massachusetts Streets. The rest of the outages are scattered across the county.

11:27 p.m. update

The number of county residents without power continues to climb, with more than 3,500 now reporting outages. City emergency crews are tending to arcing power lines near trees that are causing potential fire hazards.

The severe thunderstorm warning is set to expire in about 20 minutes, but not before more wind, rain and possibly hail.

11:19 p.m. update

More than 2,700 Westar Energy customers in Douglas County are currently reporting being without power. Multiple reports of downed power lines and many fire alarm calls have been reported as this storm system makes its way through the area.

11:10 p.m. update

There it is. The National Weather Service in Topeka has issued a severe thunderstorm warning in effect for Douglas County until 11:45 p.m.

The storm is capable of producing hail and damaging winds up to 60 miles per hour. The line of storms extends from eight miles northwest of Topeka to five miles west of Tonganoxie, moving south at 55 miles per hour.

Residents should prepare for large hail, damaging winds and heavy rains that have accompanied this storm.

11:01 p.m. update

A line of storms extending from Manhattan all the way to Kansas City may brush over Lawrence in the next few hours. Portions of southern Jefferson County are currently under a severe thunderstorm warning and it's possible Douglas County may soon follow suit.

Reports from around the area have identified damaging winds and small hail in surrounding counties.

9:02 p.m. update

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center has issued a severe thunderstorm watch until 2 a.m.

According to the weather service, the watch covers Douglas and all surrounding counties in Kansas.

The primary threats from this storm are hail up to 2.5" inches in diameter, as well as wind gusts up to 80 mph.

The strongest line of storms is currently located over Nebraska, moving south, southeast.

Check back to for updates.


riverdrifter 6 years, 9 months ago

100 mph straight-line thunderstorm wind gusts reported near Gallitan, MO.

riverdrifter 6 years, 9 months ago

I stand corrected. But it is Missouri... To hell with it!

LogicMan 6 years, 9 months ago

Batten down the hatches! It's going to be a bumpy ride if the bow echo stays together.

riverdrifter 6 years, 9 months ago

I believe you are correct LM. The gust front out in front is showing up on radar. This should be exciting, depending where you are.

H_Lecter 6 years, 9 months ago

There's room in my basement freezer if anyone needs to take cover...

Jean Robart 6 years, 9 months ago

I am really glad I closed my car windows a few hours ago :-)

jpreiner 6 years, 9 months ago

I think you'd be surprised by how many people still wonder why their power is out.

ToriFreak13 6 years, 9 months ago

Power was going out before the winds started. Westar needs to put some money into reconfiguring their lines. It makes no sense that houses on a same block have power and others don't. Not to mention this is a monthly occurrence unrelated to storms. They just had a town meeting to explain their excuses recently didn't they? Did they explain this phenomenon?

aero_steve 6 years, 9 months ago

I made it though the storms with just the occassional flicker but the power has been off since 1:45am well after the storms had passed. I'm in the Prairie Park area and the lines are all underground.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Amazingly, I went to bed early at 9PM and slept through the whole darn thing. Just went outside and the sky is crystal clear and you can see every star. Wow.

Deb Stavin 6 years, 9 months ago

My power went out at midnight and it's still out 4 hours later.

Loretta Ybarra 6 years, 9 months ago

Still no power and the number Westar has you call gives no information.

stopit 6 years, 9 months ago

No power and if you call them they tell you 6 to 12 hours and that was from 11:30 PM last night. Westar needs to improve their infrastructure and quit worrying about increasing rates. How about they work on their customer service too?

Laura Wilson 6 years, 9 months ago

Power still out at least for me and my two neighbors (wife on one side was manually closing the garage door after hubby; others were outside chatting with their other neighbors about it), yet the street light across the street and the yard light in a house across the street were on at 5:00 a.m. I asked a walker and he said that five doors down was on. As I left for work the only utility truck I saw in my neighborhood was for the phone company. When I logged my outage in around 11:30 last night Westar's website said it should be restored by 12:09 a.m. Yeah, right. If it's this sporadic it could be days.

Clovis Sangrail 6 years, 9 months ago

Another sterling performance by Westar's third world power grid.

Having trouble getting them to answer the phone? Follow these easy steps.

  1. Report your outage to the automated line.

  2. Dial the 'Customer Contact Center' number -- 800-383-1183

  3. When they ask if this is a home or a business, select the business option - 3 - instead of the home option. Businesses get better service.

  4. Wade through the menu, and you'll eventually get a choice of the following -- Partial power out -- press 1 Total power out -- press 2 Streetlights out, power line down, any other problems -- press 3

  5. You fall into the 'other problems' category because your problem is that they won't answer the phone (Plus the streetlight is probably out as well), so feel free to press 3. They will answer the phone because you might be reporting a power line down.

  6. Now try to make that person's day suck as much as yours does. Extra credit if you can get them to say a naughty word, then you can report them to their supervisor.

stopit 6 years, 9 months ago

I have never seen such elecrical failure as have seen with Westar. It does not even take a storm to lose electricity. Where do they get their used parts?

kernal 6 years, 9 months ago

If you dislike all the power outages in the older areas of Lawrence, there is plenty of real estate available in newer areas with underground lines. Of course you may have to start from scratch with shade trees.

Laura Wilson 6 years, 9 months ago

My boss lives in Jefferson County. His wife called their local power company at 5:00 a.m. and got a real live person! Does Westar even HAVE real live people to answer the phones?

stopit 6 years, 9 months ago

They do after 20 minutes of waiting on the phone and than they read off a script and can't give you any information.

Clovis Sangrail 6 years, 9 months ago

The only redeeming thing about them is that they don't sound like they are in India.

See my post above. You have to pretend you are a business to get them to answer the phone. They don't care so much about their residential customers.

verity 6 years, 9 months ago

Question: Is it only Lawrence that has this severe of a problem with Westar or are there other places that are just as bad?

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