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Trees and power lines fall as storm blows into Kansas City

Updated: 2013-07-07T15:22:59Z

By LAURA BAUER

The Kansas City Star

As residents in Wichita and parts of Central Kansas were hit with strong winds, hail and heavy rain Sunday evening, local meteorologists told people in the Kansas City area they should be prepared.

They expected severe conditions to hit our area between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. And the heavy winds came as expected.

“This isn’t your garden variety storm,” said Andy Bailey of the local National Weather Service office.

Residents in the metro area were told to expect up to quarter-size hail and more than 60 mph winds in some areas.

“There may be one or two tornadoes that may come through,” said Bailey, a warning coordination meteorologist. “That’s what we’re most concerned about.”

On Twitter at 7:42 p.m., the National Weather Service said: “Very intense winds now moving through the eastern half of Kansas City. Widespread 60 to 80 mph winds possible! TAKE SHELTER!”

Thunderstorm warnings for Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties on the Kansas side have been extended until 8:15 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Wind damage has been reported in parts of northeastern Kansas.

For eastern Jackson, Clay and Cass counties in Missouri, severe thunderstorm warnings have been extended until 8:45 p.m. Extensive wind damage is possible.

Crews are also dealing with power outages. As of 8:15 p.m., thousands of Kansas City Power & Light customers on both sides of the state line were without electricity. As soon as the severe weather is over, crews will get out and begin assessing the damage, said Katie McDonald, a spokewoman for KCP&L.

“It’s safer for them to wait until the storm has passed through,” McDonald said. “We are just watching the weather. ... We have extra crews coming in and working through the night to make sure people are back on as soon as possible.”

Thoughout Sunday, many paid close attention to the severe weather warnings.

Like some schools in other parts of Kansas, the Olathe School District postponed Sunday night’s graduations. The ceremonies are now set for Monday at 7 p.m.

“Severe weather is occurring a few hours south of our area with resulting graduation cancellations,” read an email from school officials. “… We sincerely regret the inconvenience, but stand by the conviction that we will always err on the side of the safety of our students, their families and our staff.”

Staley High School moved its 2 p.m. graduation indoors because of the weather. The school, in the North Kansas City School district, had planned to have the ceremonies at the District Activities Complex but changed it to the Falcon Fieldhouse.

Earlier Sunday, the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center had posted a moderate risk for severe weather in portions of Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Among the cities included in the moderate risk are Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. “The overall environment appears quite favorable for tornadoes,” the Storm Prediction Center outlook states.

To reach Laura Bauer, call 816-234-4944 or send email to lbauer@kcstar.com.

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