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Power restored after thunderstorm
lightning 2019 storm
This photo shows lightning strikes between Great Bend and Ellinwood Wednesday night during the storm that swept through the area. It downed power lines and left many residents without electricity. - photo by Linda Pringle/Great Bend Tribune

The storm that pummeled the area Wednesday night came as a surprise and with startling ferocity, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said.

Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office received its first alert to the possibility of hazardous weather. Even so, Sheriff Brian Bellendir said he was surprised at the intensity of the thunderstorm that knocked down tree limbs and snapped power lines and plunged many homes in Hoisington and Great Bend into darkness for an hour or longer.

“It kind of snuck up on us,” Bellendir said. “As far as we can tell it was straight-line winds, but it blew hard.” Around at 8:15 p.m., Bellendir started driving north toward a fire reported at NW 50 Road and NW 40 and thought the wind he encountered might flip his patrol vehicle.

The storm caused quite a bit of minor damage, Bellendir said Thursday afternoon. “Anything that was loose was blown around.” Power poles, tree limbs and road signs were moved by the winds.

Lightning strikes started multiple fires and then the rain extinguished several of those fires before anyone could respond to them, Bellendir said. “Fortunately, all of the fires were stubble fields.”

Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped truck traffic at the K-4/U.S. 281 junction northwest of Hoisington for a couple of hours because a leaning utility pole left a power line hanging about 8 feet above the ground. Passenger cars were allowed the go through.  

911 logs

The Daily Incident Log at the Barton County Sheriff’s Office also shows fires were reported at 8:42 p.m. at 1333 NW 150 Road, Olmitz; 8:56 p.m. at NE 120 Ave. and East U.S. 56; 10:45 p.m. at 38 NW 48 Road, Great Bend; and 3:40 a.m. Friday at NW 130 Ave. and NW 150 Road.

Utility problems were reported at 8:23 p.m. at 1322 North U.S. 281, Hoisington; 8:24 p.m. at 24th and Washington, Great Bend; 8:32 at North Washington Ave. and NW 50 Road, Great Bend; 9 p.m. at NE 50 Road and North U.S. 281, Great Bend; 9:16 p.m. in the 2100 block of NW 100 Ave., Galatia (between Olmitz and Galatia); 10:06 p.m. at NW 50 Road and NW 10 Ave.; and 10:45 p.m. at Forest Ave. and Hoisington Ave., Hoisington.

Great Bend Police officers were directing traffic at intersections where lights were out. The GBPD Daily Incident Log also includes weather-related reports, including a tree limb that fell on a power line in the 2000 block of Cleveland Ave. around 8:40 p.m. By Thursday morning, it was noted that the storm had damaged traffic lights at Broadway and Main and had moved street lights at 10th and Harrison.


Looking at the forecast, the National Weather Services forecast for Great Bend calls for a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Saturday. After that, NWF predicts mostly sunny days through Wednesday.

Power outages

Electrical power outages lasting an hour or longer were reported Wednesday night in Great Bend, Hoisington and throughout the area during the thunderstorm.

The high winds took out a transmission line northwest of Great Bend, plunging most of the city into darkness, said Chris Huber, Wheatland Electric district manager. The power was out anywhere from a half hour to an hour.

The winds snapped three of the utility’s power poles. But, with some creating switching, Huber said they were able to reroute electricity relatively quickly to restore power to all their Great Bend customers.

“All things considered, we were pretty lucky,” he said. Had the more intense portion of the storm hit town, they would be dealing with a lot more damage.

“It’s been busy,” said Midwest Energy’s Mike Morley. At the peak of the storm, they had 1,700 customers without power in Barton, Rush and Ellis counties.

However, by the morning, that number stood at 100, 15 of those residential.

Morley said they lost 70 poles in Barton and Rush counties. That included a strip of 25 poles northwest of Great Bend between NW 10 and NW 20 roads.

“It’s going to be a big mess sorting that out,” he said. Midwest’s smaller distribution poles are mingled with some of Sunflower Electric’s larger distribution poles in one pile.

Adding to the challenge are the swampy ground conditions, Morley said. Bulldozers have been needed to pull trucks which are sinking up to their axles in mud.

Midwest crews worked through the night and day and went home late Thursday afternoon. With help from Colby area crews Friday, “it will be all hands on deck,” Morley said.  


Hoisington experienced an extended power outage Wednesday night as a result of the storm, according to City Manager Jonathan Mitchell. Power lines and some poles were down around the community, and interconnect was lost between the city and its power suppliers through Mid Kansas Energy Connect. The city produced its own electricity until 8 a.m. Thursday morning when the interconnect was back up, Mitchell said. Staff from the electric distribution and generation departments worked throughout the night to repair damage and monitor generators at the city’s power plant.

“I’m very proud of the work our guys put in getting the town up and running again,” Mitchell said. 

Flash flooding was reported and barricades were set up in flood-prone areas including one section of Main Street. Many branches and limbs covered yards and streets throughout Hoisington, and Thursday morning public works crews were out removing them from the roadway. Hoisington residents are encouraged to pull storm debris to the curb for city crews to pick up Monday and Tuesday next week, Mitchell said.

One Great Bend Tribune employee who lives west of Great Bend reported a brief power outage lasting for less than a minute. Larned residents reported no power outages there.