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Tornadoes dance through area





CATHARINE -- A pair of rope twisters Wednesday evening in northeast Ellis County brought emergency service personnel en masse to the area, along with a horde of exuberant weather-watchers who were able to capture the scene in photographs.

The tornadoes didn't cause any apparent damage, even though there was at least one initial report.

That report proved to be unfounded, however, after Ellis County Emergency Management Director Bill Ring was able to contact the individual, who said there were no problems.

While the twins in northeast Ellis County attracted most of the attention, there apparently was at least one other tornado -- this one larger -- in Russell County.

That one, said Keith Haberer, Russell County's emergency management director, didn't cause any damage either.

The severe storms came as something of a surprise to most, even though adverse weather was in the forecast. The outlook, however, only had suggested the possibility of strong winds and large hail.

But as the cell developed in northeast Ellis County, the phones at emergency dispatch centers in Hays and Russell lit up with reports.

Haberer was able to snap photos of the small rope tornadoes from his vantage point in Russell as he rushed to the scene.

He wasn't able to do so with the larger Russell County tornado.

"It was behind rain from my vantage point," Haberer said this morning.

He said deputies who were on the scene were unable to find any damage.

The nearly stationary storm that produced the tornadoes apparently unleashed heavy rains.

"The majority of the rain was in northeast Ellis County," Ring said, with unofficial reports of 3 to 4 inches in the area.

Roads and fields apparently were flooded, according to relayed reports Ring received from Ellis County Rural Fire Chief Dick Klaus.

Ring said as the reports started cascading in, emergency responders were able to quickly get in the area where the reports were coming from.

At first, it was uncertain how many tornadoes there might be.

"There were so many phone calls and people with different angles," Ring said, including calls that came in from the Paradise area in Russell County. Those calls simply were picked up by the nearest cellular phone tower.

The only warning siren sounded Wednesday was in Catharine because it was close, he said.

Ring relayed the report of the twisters to the Dodge City National Weather Service, which soon issued a tornado warning.

While the twisters attracted much of the attention, a series of severe thunderstorm warnings were issued as a result of high winds or the prospects of hail.

Among the high wind reports was one at 8 p.m. Wednesday approximately 12 miles southwest of Ness City. That gust measured 81 mph.

Hail an inch in diameter was reported near Paradise in Russell County. Golfball to baseball-size hail approximately 5 miles west of Osborne was reported to law enforcement.