ABOVE: David Welch uses his chain saw around 7:45 this morning at 2109 Sierra Dr. to cut up a huge piece of tree that fell on his roof last night while he was at work. He thought the limb busted loose at approximately 10 p.m. Wednesday when Liberal was experiencing strong winds throughout the city. WInds reportedly gusted to 77 mph, according to emergency management director Greg Standard.
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
It was lights out for the majority of Liberal Thursday evening when 77 mile per hour straight-line winds caused by dissipating storms blew into town.
Mel Patterson, Corporate Services Coordinator for Southern Pioneer Electric, said the electricity went out between 8:50 and 8:55 p.m. Wednesday night. All but the final substation was back in service by 9:50 p.m., she said.
The final substation, on Western Avenue, was hit by lightning and a pole was destroyed, Seward County Emergency Management Director Greg Standard said. Patterson said the final substation was back on at 11:24 p.m.
“All of the substations except for one were on by 9:50, but we had the one out with the broken pole on Western that took awhile longer to get going,” Patterson said. “It is the transmission line and one of the main feeds into Liberal, so it could have affected anybody.”
Patterson added that a large majority of Liberal experienced Thursday evening’s power outage.
“We had 8,995 customers’ meters out,” she said. “So, 93 percent of Liberal was out.”
The cause of the black out, Standard said, was high straight-line winds caused by storms southwest of Liberal that were losing strength.
“We had 77 mile per hour winds,” he said. “They were straight-line winds caused by storms moving out of the Oklahoma Panhandle; from Guymon, Hooker and Tyrone. As those storms started falling apart, we got a pretty big blow out in front of the storms with a lot of wind coming off of them.”
Some minor damage was reported throughout the city as well as west of town, Standard said.
“We had a couple of small sheds that were blown around over east of the airport and west of the high school and that damaged some power lines and fences in that area,” he said. “We had a little bit of damage all over town. There are tree limbs down and that type of thing. We lost a roof on a farm shed about five and a half miles west of Liberal.”
Standard said tornadoes don’t usually form in the weather conditions present in Liberal Wednesday evening. However, he added, straight-line winds can be extremely dangerous in and of themselves.