South Central and Southeast Kansas
National Weather Service Wichita, KS
For the 2nd consecutive year, the atmosphere put on a 4th of July weekend fireworks display that overshadowed any of the man-made variant. During the afternoon and evening of the July 3rd, severe thunderstorms broke out across Central and South-Central Kansas, unleashing 75-100 mph winds and hail as large as softballs.
The convective barrage started when a severe thunderstorm dropped nickel-sized hail on south Hutchinson at 2:10 pm. The event quickly escalated when super-cellular severe thunderstorms erupted over Barton, Rice, Reno, and McPherson counties between 3:30 and 5:30 pm. During this time, 2-4 inch diameter hail bombed parts of southwest McPherson County at 4:00 pm. Most of this hail, pummeled rural areas 4 miles northwest of Inman, and 6 miles south-southwest of McPherson. No damage was ever reported.
Between 6:00 and 7:00 pm, one of the super-cellular severe storms in Reno County unleashed its power and caused disastrous and tragic results. The storm produced 80-100 mph winds on its southern end which raked south and southeast Reno County. This storm then took aim at Cheney Lake and State Park. The damage at the state park was major, and included the marina, around 125 boats, 35 campers, and an unspecified number of mobile homes. One mobile home was leveled. Total damage estimated around 12.5 million dollars. Six people were injured, all of whom required transport to Wichita hospitals. One man was killed when his fishing boat was overturned.
On June 30th, severe thunderstorms also proved how deserving they are of one’s respect, when Southeast Kansas was hit by incredibly destructive winds and hail that reached the size of baseballs. The baseball-sized hail hit parts of Woodson County around 7:35 pm, causing an estimated $415,000 damage to crops. As the evening progressed, the severe thunderstorms, evolved into squall lines that unleashed 80-100 mph winds. Hardest hit was Neosho County. In Chanute, large trees were uprooted with many falling onto homes and businesses. Other homes and businesses were completely unroofed. Numerous barns and sheds were destroyed. The towns of Erie and St. Paul experienced nearly identical fates. In Erie, one home was destroyed. In St. Paul, a church steeple was completely removed. Obviously, many power lines and power poles were blown down, severing power to all three towns. This round of atmospheric mayhem was responsible for $2.873 million damage to crops and property.
Severe thunderstorms are not to be taken likely. As has been stated many times at severe storm spotter talks, severe thunderstorm winds can cause considerably greater damage than many tornadoes. The events of June 30th and July 3rd proved this point in dramatic fashion.
Another product of severe convection that drew considerable attention in 2005 was the flash flood. The first major event occurred June 8th and 9th., from around 8:00 pm the evening of the 8th thru the early afternoon of the 9th. Hardest hit were Butler, Harvey and Sedgwick counties.
In Butler County, two families required rescues from their homes 4 miles north of Whitewater. Numerous streets were barricaded in and around El Dorado, and creeks overflowed. The most notable occurred 2 miles northeast of Elbing, where Henry Creek overflowed, closing 150th Street as well as the 150th Street Bridge. In Harvey County, widespread 12-15 inch rainfalls in approximately 10 hours resulted in evacuations in Newton, where most streets were barricaded. Perhaps the worst flooding in this event occurred in Sedgwick, where an estimated 147,515 acres of farmland were inundated totaling an estimated $1.5 million damage.
In Sedgwick County, 19 homes were flooded, of which 12 were mobile. These homes were completely surrounded by flooding; which isolated their occupants from the outside world. In Mt. Hope, people required rescue from their homes. Many streets and highways were barricaded, especially across Northern Sedgwick County, where flash floods reached 6 foot depths. The flooding inundated around 75,000 acres of farmland. Total property damage was estimated at $150,000.
Nearly rivaling the June 8th-9th flash flood event was one that occurred on August 25th, when slow-moving thunderstorms drenched much of South-Central and Southeast Kansas with 6-10 inch rains in a 12-hour period. The higher amounts occurred in Butler, Wilson, and Woodson counties.
In Butler County, the most serious flash flooding occurred in El Dorado, where much of the town required evacuation with many others requiring rescues from stranded vehicles. In Wilson County, all roads and highways leading into Coyville (located in Northwest Wilson County) were flooded, preventing all access into or out of town. In Woodson County, 10 miles south of Yates Center, the flash flooding caused 9 horses to disappear. Two families required rescues from nearby homes.
Relatively speaking, it was a quiet year from a tornado standpoint. As of December 12th, 40 tornadoes occurred in the Wichita County Warning Area. Of this total, the strongest was an F3 which occurred on April 21st. This tornado possessed a lifespan of 11 minutes from 5:54-6:05 pm, rotational velocities of 160-220 mph, a path 5 miles long and around 200 yards wide. The tornado touched down in Neosho County, 3 miles south of Galesburg. The tornado destroyed two mobile homes, two barns, two out-buildings, one garage, one shed, unroofed one home (collapsing two walls in the process), and dislodged one home from it’s foundation. The tornado caused an estimated $200,000 damage.