Archive for Sunday, May 22, 2011

Storms throughout Douglas and surrounding counties keep residents on edge

Wind, hail damage reported in Topeka, Jeff. Co., Baldwin City

Two rounds of severe storms rolled through Douglas and surrounding counties Saturday, May 21, 2011. Storm chaser Evan Bentley explained what the storm was doing Saturday evening near McLouth.

May 22, 2011, 12:00 a.m. Updated May 22, 2011, 8:48 a.m.


Lawrence narrowly avoided being on the receiving end of several severe storms Saturday night.

Systems producing funnel clouds and hail up to the size of tennis balls rolled through northern and southern parts of Douglas County as well as several neighboring counties.

The first round of storms put county residents on alert shortly after 6 p.m. when emergency outdoor sirens sounded. The National Weather Service in Topeka tracked a storm producing funnel clouds through the southern part of the capital city, even reporting a brief touchdown near 23rd Street and Fairlawn Road. Large hail caused damage citywide.

That storm system moved northeast, clipping the extreme northwestern part of Douglas County. Strong winds and large damaging hail were reported with the storm. Several funnel clouds in Shawnee County were also spotted by Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies, and there were unconfirmed reports of a touchdown near Lecompton. Minor damage from a brief tornado touchdown was reported near Perry Lake.

A second wave of severe weather hit the area about 10 p.m. A storm system known to have produced tornadoes as it moved east from Emporia moved through the southern part of Douglas County, and a tornado touched down on U.S. Highway 59 near the Franklin County line just after 10:30 p.m. That tornado was reportedly heading east toward Baldwin City, and emergency sirens sounded in the county once again. Spotters and emergency personnel found debris on the ground in the area but no major damage was reported.

Lawrence was largely untouched during the weather outbreak. Sporadic rain along with lightning and menacing clouds highlighted the city’s exposure.

Reading, Kan.

Heavy damage in Reading

In Reading, about 67 miles southwest of Lawrence, at least 20 homes were destroyed and one person was killed.

A man was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to Newman Regional Hospital in Emporia, about 20 miles from where the tornado hit Saturday night, hospital supervisor Deb Gould said. She said two other people were brought in with injuries but she had no further details.

Five people were injured in all, along with the person killed, said Sharon Watson, the spokeswoman for the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. She did not have details on their injuries or know whether all were hospitalized.

About 200 homes were damaged in and around the town of about 250 people, Watson said. The local post office and volunteer fire department were damaged, and all roads in and out of the town have been closed off.

Gov. Sam Brownback declared an emergency for 16 counties, including the one surrounding Reading, Watson said. The declaration allows state resources to be used in recovery and cleanup and paves the way for federal assistance if needed. Watson said a state team had been sent to Reading to help local officials with recovery work.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Gene Wallace 6 years, 4 months ago

Isn't it nice to have a Stormwalker in town?

Rich Noever 6 years, 4 months ago

I got an email earlier this morning from a cousin in California. She wanted to know if everything was alright back here. I picked up my copy of the LJW and there was very little coverage. I told her she probably knew more than the citizens of Lawrence. What time do they put the paper to press? Midnight? I guess they have to do it early because of the huge size of the paper. Right! It's embarrassing!

Rich Noever 6 years, 4 months ago

I guess English is your second language. I was complaining about "there was very little coverage". You got that? I pay for the hard copy of the LJW and shouldn't have to always go online to get coverage that should have been in this morning's paper. Try thinking before you reply.

Andrew Reeves 6 years, 4 months ago

"there was very little coverage"....not really. Last night, all there was was coverage. Who goes to a newspaper for storm coverage anyway? It's like if someone were to ask you after a game concluded, "Hey, do you know what the score was?" And you say, "I'll tell you tomorrow as soon as I get my newspaper."

Yeah, your friend probably knew more than the citizens of Lawrence (ones without the newest rages in technology, like the television, or the radio, or the internet). All she had to was click on the internet.

The newspaper isn't the place to go for storm coverage. Don't be so harsh on the paper.

labmonkey 6 years, 4 months ago

I remembered when I lived in Lawrence that tornadoes seemed to always be attracted to Baldwin City. God must hate Baldwin City.

nepenthe 6 years, 4 months ago

Funny that, lived in Baldwin City for nearly 15 years, and the tornadoes always were after Ottawa and Lawrence, never came near us. So I thought the same thing, just not about Baldwin.

Sarah St. John 6 years, 4 months ago

Reading (near Emporia) was hit pretty bad.

Liberty275 6 years, 4 months ago

It went well north of Lawrence. It was a really slow moving storm too. It's barely moved for the half-hour we stood on the KU parking ramp watching it.

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