Posts tagged with Weather

Lawrence man finds debris from Reading tornado in backyard

Before mowing his lawn, Neal Ballard always walks through his yard picking up sticks and scraps of debris. On Sunday afternoon, Ballard found a piece of paper that shocked him.

It was a 2007 receipt for 100 pounds of rocks. But that wasn’t the startling part.

The receipt was from Reading Rock Inc. and written out to the Osage County maintenance department. And it had landed in a spot on Ballard’s yard that is shaded by a canopy of trees.

Ballard’s mind immediately jumped to Saturday night’s EF-3 tornado that ripped through the small town of Reading, which is about 70 miles southwest of Lawrence. The tornado killed one man, destroyed 20 homes and damaged 200 other buildings.

“What would the chances be of living in Lawrence and walking out in your backyard and finding this?” Ballard asked.

Actually it can be rather typical, National Weather Service meteorologist Shawn Byrne said. Ballard's finding was not the only report of Reading debris in Lawrence. Debris was also found near the 3500 block of Bob Billings Parkway.

“After a significant tornado, to find that kind of debris raining down in locations 30 to 40 miles away is fairly common,” Byrne said. “They can be caught in the updraft and stay suspended until the updraft no longer supports them.”

Ballard, who lives in the 1900 block of Learnard Avenue, was fully aware of Saturday’s tornado. In fact, throughout the evening he was on the phone with his sister, who lives in nearby Lyndon and was seeking shelter in her bathtub from the two rounds of tornadoes that swept through the region.

He was just surprised to see a piece of the storm’s destruction in his backyard.

“You hear of debris flying great distances. And this is evidence,” Ballard said.

By Christine Metz

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National Weather Service forecast calls for thunderstorms, heavy rain Friday

Rain and thunderstorms are likely for east-central, north-central and northeast Kansas Friday for most of the day and evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Severe thunderstorms will be possible Friday afternoon and evening. The NWS has placed most of Kansas under a slight risk for severe weather.

Large hail and damaging winds are the primary threats with these storms, but isolated tornadoes are possible.

Heavy rainfall could lead to flooding of rivers and streams in east-central and north-central Kansas, where heavy rain has already drenched the ground.

By Whitney Mathews

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Heat advisory in effect this afternoon, evening

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Johnson County in effect from noon until 8 p.m.

Temperatures this afternoon could reach record-breaking highs in the 90s and a potential heat index nearing 100 degrees due to high humidity as well. This, coupled with the cooler weather from recent weeks could cause a great risk of heat-related illnesses, according to the NWS.

The NWS advises drinking extra fluids and avoiding the sun as much as possible. They also advise keeping a close eye on the elderly, children and pets as they are more susceptible to the heat.

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Severe weather gives symposium attendees firsthand lesson on emergency preparedness

If anybody was ready for severe weather, it was the attendees of Saturday’s 11th annual Severe Weather Symposium at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

And they a received a mini-test of their emergency preparedness toward the end of the event.

Local weathermen scattered and cellphones buzzed just seconds after a severe thunderstorm warning was issued — then canceled — for the area.

It’s that threat of hail, storms and Kansas twisters that gets these weather aficionados going.

“It’s the adventure of being able to see this planet in action,” said Sarcoxie Township Fire Chief Jay Alexander, who brought along his crew for the fourth straight year.

Many of the more than 100 attendees sported firefighter uniforms or other emergency response agency badges while others were amateur storm chasers and spotters.

The symposium was designed to provide an advanced level of training on severe weather, said Jillian Rodrigue, assistant director of Douglas County Emergency Management, which sponsored the event.

Presentations included sophisticated topics such as “Tornado Core Measurements” and “Visual Precursors to Tornado Formation.”

Alexander said his department benefits from the training because the technology is constantly improving.

“They just keep polishing the stone,” said Alexander of some of the developments he’s seen at the symposium.

Alexander talked excitedly about “super cells” and tornado formation, and said it’s easy to get hooked on storms.

“It’s in your blood,” he said.

By Shaun Hittle

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5 Questions: Severe Weather

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas, a joint venture of the National Weather Service, the Kansas Emergency Management Association and the State Division of Emergency Preparedness. Officials from those agencies answer questions below about severe weather.

Q: How many tornadoes were recorded in Kansas last year?

A: Fortunately, 2010 was another relatively quiet year in regards to tornadoes across the state of Kansas.

The state recorded 88 tornadoes, which is 28 above the average of 60 tornadoes since records began in 1950. However, Kansas was eight under the 20-year average, which is 96.

Q: When were the first and last tornadoes of 2010?

A: The first was April 22 in Kearny County. The last was Sept. 25 in Comanche County. However, Kansans live with the threat of severe weather year round.

Q: What month was the busiest for tornadoes in Kansas?

A: In May, there were 42 tornadoes reported in the state, nearly half of those recorded the entire year.

Q: How should we prepare for severe weather?

A: Families should practice their severe weather safety plan at home, work, school or other public locations that they frequent. They should develop a safety plan for times when they are participating in outdoor recreation activities, sporting events or working outdoors. Each Kansan should know where to go should severe weather strike their location.

Q: What is the best way to know if a storm is approaching?

A: All Hazards NOAA Weather Radio is like having a personal tornado siren in your home or vehicle. We encourage Kansans to purchase a weather radio and have it programmed to their county and surrounding counties to receive severe weather warnings and information directly from the National Weather Service.

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Daily Poll

The temperatures have remained above freezing for several days in a row now and all that snow is starting to disappear. Could it be that the groundhog was right and spring is finally on it's what? What do you think?

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De Soto Closings

Even though the snow has stopped falling, poor road conditions and drifting are still keeping some businesses and buildings closed:

  • De Soto City Hall is closed all day.
  • The De Soto Multi-Service Center is closed all day.
  • The De Soto library is closed all day.
  • Johnson County Transit's FlexRide will not be running.
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If you have to drive in snow, AAA offers tips to be safe

This week’s dangerous combination of a layer of ice followed by heavy snow will make for some treacherous driving conditions. For people who must navigate the slippery, snow-covered roads, AAA has these tips: Before you go

  • Be sure to check highway road conditions and reports. The Kansas Department of Transportation’s website at ksdot.org is a good place to start. If needed, postpone your trip.
  • Clean ice and snow off windshield wipers, the windshield and all windows.
  • Check fluid levels to make sure the engine oil, radiator coolant and windshield wiper fluid are filled.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car that includes blankets, boots, water, nonperishable food, first-aid kit, flashlight, candles, matches or light, and a shovel.
  • Be sure your gasoline tank is full and your cell phone is fully charged.

On the road

  • Steer clear of slush mounds. Heavier, wet snow can form slush mounds, which can pull a car deeper into slush.

  • To keep traction and avoid skidding, use gentle pressure on the accelerator pedal when starting. If your wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns.

  • Minimize brake use on slippery, icy hills. To slow down while going down a hill, put pressure on the brakes slowly to avoid losing control.

  • If you hit a patch of ice, avoid braking. To regain traction, remove feet from the situation, look where you want to go and steer to get there.

  • Increase your following distance behind other vehicles to 8 to 10 seconds.

By Christine Metz

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Brownback signs disaster declaration because of winter storm, offers assistance to 53 counties

Because of the severe winter storm, Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday signed a disaster declaration that activates emergency actions and authorizes state resources for assistance statewide. “We ask Kansans to be extremely careful as the storm moves across the state. Ice, snow and bitterly cold temperatures will make for very dangerous conditions,” Brownback said. “Planning ahead could save your life and that of your family,” he said.

Fifty-three counties, including Johnson County, are named in the declaration as areas likely to be affected.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management has activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to a “Watch Level,” with 24-hour staffing.

“We are ready to assist counties across the state if local entities are overwhelmed and need support,” Brownback said.

By Scott Rothschild

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K-10 reopens at Douglas County line; Winter storm warning continues through Wednesday

Kansas Highway 10 has reopened at the Douglas-Johnson County line after being shut down both directions so road crews could treat the highway shortly before 9 a.m. The highway was shut down both directions until road crews could treat the asphalt. Multiple slide-offs were reported in that area (near Evening Star Road) Monday morning.

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