More Severe Weather Expected In Central Kansas After Tornado Hits Barton County

May 17, 2017

A warning was issued 13 minutes before a tornado hit the city of Pawnee Rock in Barton County, Kansas, last night--and that was time enough for residents in its path to take cover.

It was like a playbook for a disaster: The sirens went off at 8:03 Tuesday night and the twister hit at 8:16. The tornado, estimated to have been between 400 and 500 feet wide, stayed on the ground for about 12 miles.

Wednesday morning, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir took a look from above.

"As we were flying over, you could see the rotation in the mud out in the fields and pastures," he said during a news briefing. "The track was visible all the way to K-4 highway."

The National Weather service determined Tuesday night's tornado was an EF3 with an estimated total track of 27 miles.

Only one minor injury was reported, and preliminary reports say around 20 structures were damaged or destroyed. More than 20 agencies responded to help.

The NWS says there could be worse weather Thursday evening. The storms have a good chance of impacting parts of south and south-central Kansas, including Wichita, as they move east across the state.

Chris Jakub, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, says "baseball-size" hail and damaging winds up to 60-70 miles per hour is expected.

"There is a chance for a few strong tornadoes with some of these storms," he says.

Jakub says the storms are only part one. He says much of storm system will remain to the west, and the Wichita area could go through additional storms on Friday.

Wichita may be well within the target of those storms.

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Aileen LeBlanc is news director at KMUW. Follow her on Twitter @Aileen_LeBlanc

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

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