WICHITA - Thousands of residents in south-central Kansas remain without power after storms swept through the region on Thursday, downing trees and power lines.
Most of the damage was reported in Sedgwick County, where about 16,000 Westar Energy customers remained without power at noon Friday, down from a peak of about 21,000. The utility said it hoped to have power restored by Saturday morning. Power outages also were reported in Harvey, McPherson, and Reno counties.
The National Weather Service says winds topped 70 miles per hour, knocking limbs onto cars and homes and bringing down power poles.
The Kansas Highway Patrol says winds blew over a semi-trailer truck on the Kansas Turnpike Thursday evening at the south-Wichita exit. The driver, a 50-year-old man from Texas, was hospitalized with critical head injuries, after his semi- was blown into a wall at a toll-gate area. Sedgwick County was under a severe thunderstorm warning for an hour-and-a-half, as sustained high wind brought down trees and limbs, caused many power outages, and flooded streets. The National Weather Service office in Wichita clocked a wind gust of 89 m.p.h. near Mid-Continent Airport. Wichita recorded more than a half-inch of rain.
At the airport, several baggage cars flipped over; a smaller Federal Express cargo plane sustained wind damage, and was turned 180-degrees. Multiple overhead garage doors were also blown in.
In Wichita traffic lights were down because of the power outages; streets were flooded across the city, including the downtown area,
Power lines down across the roadway caused many sections of Highway 50 to be closed for a time between Newton and Halstead .
A business in Derby caught fire, possibly the result of a power pole blown down and onto the building. A roof was blown off a commercial building near Kellogg and Ridge, and a number of fireworks stands around the area have been completely destroyed.