More severe weather moves through Kansas

Monday, June 2nd 2008, 6:42 pm
By: News 9

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- The National Weather Service in Topeka says it has received numerous reports of baseball- to softball-sized hail in north-central and northeast Kansas.

Meteorologist Darrel Smith says many of the areas hit hardest by hail were rural, but some larger communities also reported significant damage. The reports of hail started in the early morning hours Monday and continued into late morning.

"It's fairly rare to get so many baseball- to softball-sized hail reports," Smith said. "Usually, you'll get one storm that will fire up and create this size hail. But this has been several storms that are doing this, so it is unusual in that aspect."

He said reports started coming in as early as 7:45 a.m., with Clay Center seeing 3 1/2-inch hail.

"That's larger than a baseball, but smaller than softball-sized hail," Smith said.

Manhattan was the largest community affected by the storm, which was moving east toward Missouri, Smith said. Baseball-sized hail damaged cars and buildings downtown and at Manhattan Regional Airport.

Ron Fehr, the city manager in Manhattan, said the damage looked "pretty extensive" but that the actual amount has yet to be determined.

The airport, southwest of downtown, got hit particularly hard. No aircraft were damaged but the terminal building and a hangar were.

The bulk of the damage was to cars parked at the airport.

"You would be hard-pressed to find a vehicle that doesn't have damage," airport director Peter Van Kuren said. "Ninety-eight percent of the vehicles received broken windshields. All the vehicles received surface damage."

He said rental cars sustained serious damage. Vehicles parked in both the airport's short-term and long-term parking areas also were damaged.

The hail left numerous dents in the terminal building and broke windows on a stone hangar that was built at the airport around 1940.

No people were reported injured, Van Kuren said. No aircraft were on the ground at the airport during the storm.

Except for some flight delays, the airport was back to its normal operation early afternoon.

"We're up and running," Van Kuren said. "It's just a lot of personal inconvenience at this point."

Baseball-sized hail also was reported southeast of Manhattan near Alma. Smith said the weather service also got reports of golf ball- to baseball-sized hail in the Melvern Lake area, and baseball-sized hail in Reading.

More than 25 vehicles were damaged at Fort Riley from quarter-sized hail, according to the post's public affairs office. Tornado sirens went off at the post after reports of rotation in the clouds, but no tornadoes touched down. No injuries were reported.

Forecasters say the severe thunderstorms in northern Kansas moved through the same general area of the state damaged by a tornado and powerful winds last week.

A severe thunderstorm watch was posted in 30 northern and northeastern Kansas counties.

Such weather has been common so far this year. Last week the weather service reported that nearly 90 twisters were reported in Kansas over a period of several days.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)