Archive for Monday, March 23, 2009

High wind warning issued for Douglas, surrounding counties; heavier storms expected to move through about 7 p.m.

March 23, 2009, 8:27 a.m.

Updated: March 23, 2009, 5:11 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for Douglas County and surrounding areas.

6News Chief Meteorologist Matt Elwell said that while there is a risk of tornadoes in Lawrence, he thought the primary threat would be from large hail and high, damaging winds.

He expected the heavier storms to move through the Lawrence area beginning about 7 p.m. and lasting until perhaps as late as 11 p.m. Another, lighter line of storms could last all the way until 2 a.m., he said.

The high wind warning that's in effect calls for gusts of winds at 60 mph, with sustained winds of 35 to 40 mph. The winds have already caused a semi-trailer to overturn on I-70 west of Topeka.

High winds are literally blowing trucks off the road along Interstate 70, said Kimberly Qualls, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

“There have been multiple rollovers due to the high winds, all the way out to Salina,” she said from her office in Topeka.

Reports have come from Geary, Dickinson and Saline counties, she said. She also reported a semi having rolled over on I-70 in Topeka, closing the left lane for traffic headed east from West Union to Valencia roads as crews cleaned up the accident in the median.

“There’s been gusts up to 50 mph, and that’s not supposed to quit until about 7 tonight,” Qualls said. “It’s windy. Drive slow and drive with caution.”

Meanwhile, in Douglas County, a power line was reported down at the intersection of Sixth and Wakarusa streets. Westar Energy reported 1621 people were without power as of 2:53 p.m. Monday.

Most were near the downed power line at 6th and Wakarusa.

A tornado watch is in effect for areas west of Highway 75 in Kansas. Elwell said the watch will likely be extended east toward Lawrence and surrounding areas later in the day — or at the very least a severe thunderstorm watch would be issued.

Further storm development is expected in the late evening and overnight hours.

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