Winds to continue through Tuesday
As Barton County experienced a sudden wind and dust storm that resulted in U.S. 56 and West Barton County Road being closed from Patton Road west, The National Weather Service in Wichita upgraded a wind advisory to a high wind warning. It was in effect from 5:05 p.m until 8 p.m. Monday night.
Strong northwest winds were expected to continue into the early evening hours with gusts over 60 mph likely.
Tuesday will be another blustery day. Northwest winds are expected to pick back up in the late morning and will be sustained in the 30 to 35 mph range with gusts to 40 mph into the early evening hours.
According to the National Weather Service, a high wind warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. That includes sustained winds of at least 40 mph or gust of 58 mph expected. Winds this strong can cause property damage.
A wind advisory means that sustained winds of at least 30 mph and/or gusts over 45 mph are expected. Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles. Extra caution is advised.
These winds will result in a high grassland fire danger for locations along and west of I-135.
The fire danger will likely remain into the week ahead. While there is a slight chance of thunderstorms on Sunday, the risk for organized storms and severe weather appears low.
BY STAFF REPORTS
Blowing dust from fields caused conditions that resulted in a fatal accident on U.S. 56 shortly after 4 p.m. Monday afternoon. The Kansas Highway Patrol reported Brandon H. Stein, 30, of Great Bend sustained injuries resulting in death after his 2007 Cadillac Escalade collided with the trailer of a semi driven by Michael D. Donovan, 54, of Larned. Donovan was stopped in the eastbound lane of U.S. 56 mile marker 195.9, about seven miles west of Great Bend, straddling the fog line due to visibility being reduced by blowing dirt and other accidents. Stein was not wearing a safety restraint.
Responders reported zero visibility in the area as they attempted to reach the scene of the accident. The poor conditions prompted authorities to close U.S. 56 from Great Bend to Pawnee Rock around 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
Another two-vehicle accident with unknown injuries was reported a short time later at SW 40 Road and SW 70 Ave.
Visibility was near zero and three ambulances were out in the county at 4:37 p.m.
A Code Red (critical) patient was reported in an SUV. It is unknown if this was Stein or another accident victim. The poor visibility also hindered responders, as they tried to skirt around the worst of the storm and approach from the west by West Barton County Road (10th Street). But responders advised zero visibility on Barton County Road. About the same time, West Barton County Road was closed at 10th and Patton Road.
A Barton County Sheriff’s Office deputy was involved in one of multiple vehicular accidents.
Visibility was also a factor for EMS transport once they arrived on the scene. While one Code Green (not life threatening) patient was reported en route to Great Bend Regional at 4:58 p.m., others waited for roadways to be cleared and visibility to improve.
At 5:08 p.m. scanner traffic reported two Code Green patients required transport to Great Bend Regional Hospital.
At 5:29 p.m. two Code Red patients were being transported. It is not known if the Code Green patients’ conditions had been downgraded or if these were different patients. The ambulance requested an officer keep the north shoulder clear so it could back out heading west.
Pawnee Rock Fire Department responded, and once they were cleared from the scene, they began a check of gravel roads in the area.
Meanwhile, tin blew off a Great Bend Co-op roof on South Main Street in Great Bend, falling onto the railroad tracks and obstructing the roadway. It was removed within minutes. Temperature was 56 degrees Fahrenheit; wind speed was 41 mph with gusts to 54.
At 5:36 p.m., another traumatic accident was reported on K-96, requiring transport. EMS transport was able to respond quickly.