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'Gorilla hail' hits parts of Kansas, Missouri after reported tornadoes in some areas

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Residents got their first glimpses of damage Thursday morning from what was reportedly Northeast Kansas’ first tornado event of the season.

Massive chunks of hail also pelted parts of Kansas and Missouri on Wednesday night, bringing traffic to a standstill along Interstate 70.

Crews from the National Weather Service said they were surveying areas with tornado damage near Alta Vista, in Wabaunsee County, and near Rossville, in Shawnee County.

There was significant tree damage and some roof shingles were off of at least one home just north of Rossville, located northwest of Topeka.

The first reports of a touchdown came Wednesday evening near Alta Vista.

There were three unconfirmed reports of tornadoes in Wabaunsee and Shawnee counties with reports of damaged structures, but no reports of injuries or homes damaged, according to meteorologist Matt Wolters with the National Weather Service’s Topeka office.

Survey teams had planned to head out Thursday to evaluate the damage, he said.

There were reports of 4-inch hail, nearly softball-size, in the town of Wabaunsee and 3-inch hail in Geary County near Junction City and Fort Riley, Wolters said.

Descriptions of the hail ranged from the size of golf balls and apples to softballs and baseballs.

Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, previously said the predicted hail was deemed “gorilla hail” because it had the potential to be so big.

“Gorilla hail” is a term coined by Reed Timmer, a storm chaser who calls himself an extreme meteorologist, Sosnowski said. In this case, the term might fit: Some hail from north-central Kansas into north-central Missouri could be as big as a baseball.

Traffic came to a standstill for a time on part of Interstate 70 because of the falling hail, the National Weather Service said on X.

Late Wednesday, forecasters issued tornado warnings in the areas around Topeka and to the north, while severe thunderstorm warnings were issued northeast of Kansas City in Missouri.

“If you are in this warning, get away from windows and shelter inside now!!!” the National Weather Service posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. The weather service said the storm had previously produced “softball-sized hail,” or 3.5-inch chunks.

The weather service also issued a severe thunderstorm watch for parts of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas through Thursday morning, after which forecasters said the storm will move to the east.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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