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Near-historic winds ravage county

Staff writer

A windstorm of epic proportions hit Marion County along with a large portion of the state Dec. 15 and caused widespread damage.

Wind speeds as high as 70 mph were recorded in the county.

Kevin Darmofal, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wichita, said wind speeds were in the category of an EF0 tornado though no tornado was recorded. EF0 tornadoes produce winds of 65 to 85 mph.

“It was equivalent to high-end tropical storm winds,” Darmofal said

Tornado sirens in Marion blared during part of the evening.

“The control/signal wires wrapped themselves together from the excessive wind,” city administrator Roger Holter said. “The wires fused together from the electrical current passing through them. The control/signal wires will be replaced with heavier insulated wires.”

The high winds were not caused by a thunderstorm.

“It was just low pressure moving across the central United States,” he said.

The storm did produce spots of heavy rain.

Private weather stations recorded 0.18 of an inch of rain in Marion County.

The winds blew in heavy dust and smoke and odor from widespread grass fires in Ellis and Russell counties in northwest and north-central Kansas.

Electric, cable, and Internet services were interrupted in portions of the county.

Some residents wanted to file claims with the city’s insurance for appliances damaged by the power failure, but insurance agent Alex Case said he would not submit the claims.

The city’s insurance company will only pay claims caused if the city is negligent, Case said.

“None of this could be controlled or prevented by the city of Marion, and none of this was the fault of the city,” Case said. “Wind was the primary cause for all power outages. Any homeowner or property insurance policy provides coverage for wind and should provide coverage for your damaged appliances and other property. We recommend you contact your insurance agent if you have damage.”

Trees and power poles were snapped; tree branches were broken. Sheds, trampolines and other items not affixed to the ground were blown over or away. Mailboxes and outside décor items were flung from their places. Windows were blown out of frames and smashed to the ground. Sheets of corrugated metal were found hanging in trees and from power lines, and power lines themselves were yanked down.

Marion city crews will pick up limbs piled next to the street and take the limbs to the burn pit today.

Last modified Dec. 23, 2021

 

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