The Kansas City metro area was on high alert due to weather on Dec. 15, but it was not a blizzard or ice storm. Fortunately, the impact on Raymore was minimal.
Last Wednesday, unusual mid-December weather blew through several states spanning from Colorado to the Kansas City metro area, all the way up near Green Bay, Wis. Wind gusts around 80 mph tore through the metro, leaving damage in its wake.
Raymore residents started the day on a pleasant note. The Kansas City area reached a record high of 74 degrees. The previous record was 68 degrees set in 2002.
While the Kansas City area was enjoying the unusually nice weather, a severe storm was moving in from the west. That evening, a storm capable of producing tennis ball sized hail and 70 mph winds was moving through Gardner, Kan., along Interstate 35. Areas already hit by the storm reported wind damage, including blown over tractor-trailers and debris.
That storm would eventually pass through the Kansas City metro area, bringing hail and wind with it. At around 6 p.m., the Kansas City International Airport evacuated people in the air traffic control tower, causing diversions and delays up to one hour. By 7:30 p.m., nearly 175,000 Evergy customers in Kansas and Missouri were without power.
The Missouri State and Kansas Highway Patrol reported overturned tractor-trailers. Blown away traffic signs posed safety risks.
Further west, Interstate 70 was shut down from Hays to Colorado. Winds had produced a dust storm, blowing out windows and causing low visibility conditions.
For the next 24 hours, Raymore residents could smell smoke coming from some unknown source. A few hundred miles west, a wildfire was burning in north-central Kansas. Extreme winds that moved eastward with the storm had blown the smoke all the way to the Kansas City area.
Dec. 15 set a record for the greatest number of hurricane-force (75+ mph) thunderstorm wind gusts in a day, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record of 53 was set last August. There were 61 reports of high winds last Wednesday. Some areas were hit with wind speeds faster than 100 mph.
In the end, Raymore narrowly escaped an unseasonable storm that would knock out power to about half a million customers in 10 states. Less than 100 outages were reported in Raymore.
Cass County in general came out relatively unscathed with less than 1,000 power outages. Comparatively, there were up to 17,000 outages at one time in Jackson County and 12,000 in Johnson County, Kan.
The National Weather Service received numerous reports of downed trees and power lines, house damage and hail in surrounding counties. There were no reports coming out of Cass County.
About 85 million Americans were under a high wind warning that day. Adding to the odd nature of the weather, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center received 37 tornado reports, most of which were in Nebraska and Iowa. Sioux Falls, S.D., had issued its first ever December tornado warning.
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