By: Tim Sedlock and Paul Howerton
Strong storms brought heavy rains, wind and hail through south- central and southeast Kansas over the Independence Day weekend 2004.
Overnight Saturday, July 3rd through early Tuesday morning, July 6th, areas of south-central and southeast Kansas were under the gun each night as strong to severe storms roared across the area. Storms were responsible for damaging winds, large hail and heavy rains in many locations.A total of 61 severe thunderstorm warnings were issued from late Saturday night, July 3rd through early Tuesday morning, July 6th. Sixteen severe thunderstorm warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Wichita overnight Saturday and Sunday morning as a large cluster of thunderstorms formed in McPherson and Harvey counties in south- central Kansas, then propagating southeast into southeast Kansas early Sunday morning. Hail to the size of golf balls, or 1.75 inches, was reported in eastern Sedgwick County and again in Montgomery County. A wind gust of 71 mph was measured at McConnell Air Force base as the storms rolled through Sedgwick County. Sunday morning, the emergency manager from Labette County reported widespread damage due to straight- line winds over a 10 square mile area across Oswego. The next night, twenty-seven severe thunderstorm warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Wichita. In similar fashion as the night before, storms developed in northwest Kansas, developed into a line, and then moved from south-central Kansas into southeast Kansas through the early morning hours on Monday. Golf ball hail was again was reported in Sedgwick County near Park City. Wind gusts as high as 70 mph were reported across areas of Neosho County near Erie. Other reports from Neosho County included a shed was blown down in Galesburg and reports of power lines down in Chanute. Not to be outdone by the previous two nights of fireworks, seventeen more severe thunderstorm warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Wichita Monday night and early Tuesday morning. A line of severe storms moved east out of western Kansas into central Kansas during the late evening hours. This line progressed east across south-central Kansas (see image 1 and image 2) and eventually moved into southeast Kansas during the early morning hours Tuesday morning. Widespread wind damage occurred with winds as high as 72 mph in Salina. This swath of strong winds in the 60-65 mph range occurred out ahead of the line of storms as far east as Elk and Chautauqua counties. This event was not as an efficient hail producer as the previous two nights, with only isolated reports of 0.75 inch or dime sized hail. Plentiful rain amounts were reported across south-central and southeast Kansas as the storms moved through the region (Image 3). Storms formed out ahead of an upper wave each afternoon and evening across the upper Plains and tracked east-southeastward across Kansas during the overnight hours. Even with all of the stormy weather no tornadoes were reported.