Storms bring large hail, isolated tornadoes to north central Kansas

Published: Apr. 24, 2016 at 3:56 PM CDT
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Severe thunderstorms packing large hail, strong winds, areas of rotation and at least a couple confirmed, isolated tornadoes made their way across north central Kansas Sunday afternoon into evening.

The most significant damage reported from the storms as of Sunday night, occurred in Republic County near the Kansas-Nebraska border.

A mobile home was destroyed and two people were hurt from the strong thunderstorms. Dispatchers say both people injured were out storm spotting. The extend of their injuries is unknown as of Sunday night.

Further south, an area that saw some of the most active weather Sunday was Saline County. It was a busy afternoon into evening at the Salina airport, not because of flights, but due to the number of storms moving through.

Before a massive wall cloud moved into Saline County, people at the airport were keeping an eye on the sky. The wall cloud dropped several funnels as people watched. In addition to the funnels, the storm dropped large hail. In Saline County up-to-baseball-sized hail melted quickly, but it did cause damage and at least one injury.

Police in Salina say one man was hit in the head and needed medical treatment. His condition is unknown as of Sunday night.

As the storm moved out of the KWCH viewing area and into Riley County Sunday night, it prompted Kansas State University to ask all students on its campus to take shelter until the storm passed.

A more widespread severe threat is anticipated for Tuesday in much of Kansas and the Wichita area with threats of large hail, potentially damaging winds and tornadoes.

You can read a recap of how events in north central Kansas unfolded Sunday through the the day's live updates below:

UPDATE: 7:05 p.m.: The tornado and severe thunderstorm threats for Saline County have expired as the storms continue moving north and east. A tornado warning has been issued for north central and northeast Republic County near the Kansas-Nebraska border. The warning includes the town of Belleville, but the primary threat appears to be north of town. The storm continues to produce large hail, which has also been reported north of Abilene where a severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect until 7:30 p.m. for northwest Dickinson County.

Clay County is also in a thunderstorm warning for a storm located south of Clay Center. The storms that developed Sunday afternoon are moving out of the KWCH viewing area.


UPDATE: 6:25 p.m.: Large hail has been reported with the storm involving a tornado warning that continues until 6:45 pm. in Saline County. Local law enforcement confirms baseball-sized hail east of Salina. The tornado warning no longer includes the City of Salina.


UPDATE: 6 p.m.: A tornado warning for north central and northeast Saline County has been extended until 6:45 p.m.


UPDATE: 5:55 p.m.: There have not been anymore confirmed tornadoes as the storm first reported in Barton County approaches Salina. To the north and east, thunderstorm warnings are in effect for Mitchell and Osborne Counties and Republic County until 6:30 p.m.


UPDATE: 5:30 p.m.: A new severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for north central Mitchell County and eastern Jewell County until 6 p.m. for a storm north of Beloit, moving northeast at about 25 mph. This storm has the potential to produce 60 mph winds and quarter-sized hail.


UPDATE: 5:20 p.m.: A tornado in progress has been reported just south of Glendale, along I-70 in western Saline County. The storm is heading in the direction of Salina, but is about 20 minutes from reaching the city.

Tennis-ball sized hail has been reported along the Saline/Lincoln County line.


UPDATE: 5:15 p.m. A tornado warning has been issued for Saline County as the severe storm tracks north and east. The warning includes the city of Salina. The current path shows the storm would miss Salina to the north and west, but the city is in the warning as the storm could shift its direction.


UPDATE: 5 p.m.: There have been no damage reports, but a severe thunderstorm has produced golf-ball sized hail about five miles north of Ellsworth. The tornado warning for northeast Ellsworth County and southeast Lincoln County remains in effect until 5:30 p.m. The area of rotation was reported north of Kanopolis. The warning does not include Saline County, but KWCH reporter Pilar Pedraza spotted a wall cloud in the distance, off to the west from the Salina airport.


UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.: A new tornado warning for northeast sections of Ellsworth County and southeast sections of Lincoln County. This warning does not include the town of Lincoln, but people north and east of Ellsworth should take tornado precautions.


UPDATE: 4:35 p.m.: The tornado threat has ended for Barton County, but continues for Ellsworth County. Heavy rainfall in northern Ellsworth and Lincoln Counties could soon impact drivers on I-70. The potential for large hail also remains for Lincoln County.

UPDATE: 4:20 p.m. A storm chaser confirms a tornado about three miles northwest of Hollyrood in Ellsworth County. People in western Ellsworth County need to get below ground. The threat is moving out of Barton County. Heavy rainfall is being reported near the Barton/Rice County line.


UPDATE: 4:10 p.m. A tornado warning has been issued for northeast sections of Barton County and also includes much of western and northern Ellsworth County. So far, there has not been a confirmed tornado. The tornado warning is in effect until 4:45 p.m. People in the city of Ellsworth have been advised to seek shelter immediately. The area of rotation is moving northeast at about 30 mph.

Lincoln County is under a severe thunderstorm warning until 5 p.m. The biggest threat appears to be hail.


At about 3:30 p.m., the first severe thunderstorm warning for the afternoon was issued for Barton County, Russell County and western Ellsworth County up into portions of Lincoln County. Radar showed two distinct thunderstorms that rapidly developed.

A little after 3:30, the strongest storm was spotted just north of Cheyenne Bottoms, north of Great Bend. The large hail threat has come to fruition with half-dollar-sized hail reported by law enforcement in Hoisington. The hail threat is accompanied by the threat for strong wind gusts up to 60 mph.

The storms are moving northeast at about 45 mph. More storms are expected to fire up across north central Kansas as we continue into the afternoon.