Storm summary: June 15, 2017
Summer storm season often brings large complexes of severe thunderstorms that overspread large areas. Such was the case on Thursday, June 15th. Thunderstorms developed near Hays and expanded south and east through the afternoon and evening. By early morning the 16th, they had exited the state after creating much chaos, especially in the middle of Kansas. Numerous wind reports in excess of 70 mph, isolated heavy rains, and hail up to the size of softballs were reported.
Figure 1. Visible satellite near sunset on June 15th showed the large complex of thunderstorms across Kansas/Oklahoma.
The Kansas Mesonet (mesonet.ksu.edu) provided an ample method of sampling winds associated with this complex. The highest gusts recorded on the network and associated maps:
- Hays: 77.4 mph (1500 CDT)
- Lorraine: 64.1 mph (1745 CDT)
- Gypsum: 63.1 mph (1735 CDT)
- Hutchinson 10SW: 59.3 mph (1900 CDT)
- Lake City: 58.1 mph (1905 CDT)
Figure 2. Maximum wind gusts at 6 feet (2 meters) recorded on the Kansas Mesonet.
Numerous reports of wind damage were also received by the National Weather Service. Many were downed trees, but some structures were impacted. Some potential impacts to agriculture included windblown crops, damage to pivots, and destroyed storage structures. The most impacted region was central Kansas.
Figure 4. National Weather Service wind gust/damage storm reports in Kansas.
Hail was also an issue. The largest report of hail was 4” (roughly softball sized) near Kiowa in south central Kansas. Numerous other reports were spread across central Kansas. When combined with the strong winds, hail can be increasingly damaging, especially to crops. Here are the hail reports on June 15th:
Figure 5. National Weather Service large hail storm reports in Kansas.
However, not all the weather was negative. These storms brought much needed moisture to central Kansas. A corridor from Hutchinson northeast to Manhattan were on a 14-20 day streak without receiving 0.1” or more of moisture. With the hot and windy weather during this period, the ground was beginning to quickly dry out. This drying was beginning to not only dry the grasses (several grass fires were reported due to lightning with this event) but also not optimal for crops either.
Heavy rains were hit/miss but a large swath of central to eastern Kansas had very beneficial rains. Cut offs between areas of heavy and light-to-no rain were sharp, especially around Hays and Wichita. Below is the map of the total rain measured ending at 7 a.m. June 16th:
Figure 6. National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program, CoCoRaHS, and Kansas Mesonet rainfall reports as of 7am June 16th.
Figure 7. Storm approaches Eskridge, Kansas. Photo by Jason Keller (https://twitter.com/jasonkellerpt). Used with permission.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
Christopher Redmond, Weather Data Library/Mesonet