‘Performance Storm’ of July 26-27

These torrential rain producing thunderstorms caused a lot of flash flooding in and around Kansas City.   My wife and I were in downtown Kansas City for one of her performances of her one-person show at the Fringe Festival.  The first big storm cells were moving in from the west-northwest across the Northland (area of KC north of the Missouri River) by 8 PM (first radar image below).  Then the storms came in over our location in downtown KC during the early part of Mechele’s 9:00 PM performance – a performance interrupted by several rolls of thunder and bursts of heavy rain on the roof of the theater.  This was merely a prelude, however, as these initial storms mainly rolled by just north of us. Then, the first of several very heavy storm cells rolled in on top of us around 10:30 PM, just as we were leaving the theater for the Westin Inn.  Fortunately most of the patrons at the show had already left soon after the end of the performance at 10 PM.   It was a nerve-wracking drive that 10 blocks or so to the hotel as the city streets starting to become little rivers.  As it turned out, however, it was nothing like what occurred a bit farther south (and lower down in elevation) where some major flooding damage occurred and there were several water rescues of motorists.   Storms continued until about 5 in the morning.


8:58 PM – Two minutes until the show starts. Scary-looking sky and occasional lightning to the northwest-east with light rain.


9:16 PM.. Rumbles of thunder heard in the theater but with the heavy storms just to the north.


9:33 PM – A few loud rolls of thunder and brief periods of very heavy rain heard on the roof as fingers of the storms to the north roll across downtown KC.


10:02 PM – Show is just completed and people start to leave, and just in time, ahead of the developing strong cell to the west.


10:20 PM.. Very strong storm cell about to move across.. too late to avoid at this point.


10:30 PM – First very strong storm moves across the entire city, not just the northland (area of KC north of the river).


10:49 PM – Missouri side of the river in torrential rain with light to moderate rain on the Kansas side.. also strong storm cells developing over the Lawrence area.


11:00 PM – Heavy rain pushing eastward..with development also in the Topeka to Lawrence area.


11:30 PM – Break in the action over KC.. storms over the Lawrence area.


One minute after midnight, 27 July. All but about 5 hundredths of the storm is done at our residence in Lawrence but a majority of the storms are still to come across Kansas City.


12:30 AM


1:00 AM


1:30 AM – North and east Lawrence hit by new strong storm cells, but they miss our residence in southwest Lawrence. North and west sections of Kansas City are getting hammered again.


2:00 AM – Very heavy storms from just east of Lawrence on across much of Kansas City.


2:31 AM – The area of development starts in the Topeka to Lawrence area with intense storms on across KC as the storms move eastward and intensify.


2:57 AM – Area of development slowly pushing eastward but the KC metro is still getting clobbered.


3:31 AM – Strong storms from virtually the east side of Lawrence on across the central and southern metro area. And yikes, even some new development to the northwest of town!


4:02 AM – Storms slowly push southeastward but southern areas of KC still awash.. new cells slowly push in from the northwest, though not nearly as intense, and a few cells continue to hang back almost to Lawrence.


4:31 AM – I wake up to thunder as the new storms to the northwest push in. It was raining heavily at the hotel, though not easy to see due to heavy condensation on the windows. More widespread heavy storms continue in southern suburbs of the metro area.


5:01 AM – Still some small but intense cells approaching the downtown area but major large area of heavy storms is pushing off to the southeast.


5:30 AM – Some rain and thunder continues across the city with spotty development attempting to get started out to the Topeka area and beyond.. but conditions for further strong development on the wane.


5:54 AM – Still raining in the south part of the city but the event is mainly over as development pushes southward and trains off to the east. However, the flooding event is still getting into full swing across much of the city. We were fine on the 17th floor of the Westin Inn. However these storms caused record crests on some KC area streams and considerable flood damage and flash flood damage, as well as some high-water rescues. While there was a lot of flood and flash-flood damage to cars, businesses, stream side parks and no doubt many homes, no fatalities were noted as of this time.


Rainfall Amounts from the July 26-27, 2017, “Performance Storms” (as I have dubbed them) in the 24 hours ending around 7 AM, Thursday, July 27.  While I measured 1.71 inches in the 24 hour period at our residence in Lawrence, about 6 tenths of this came in light to moderate rain during the day on Wednesday with only about 1.1 inches falling from the heavy storms overnight.  So once again, it was good to be in Lawrence, where it is SAFE!   The only thing was, we were in Kansas City for Mechele’s show at the Fringe Festival.  As we were contemplating our dash to the car from the theater at about 10:30 PM, a tent shelter outside the door of the theater collapsed due to the weight of the rainwater running off. We were glad we did not consider out options under that tent! After getting thoroughly wet and dodging lightning overhead in a dash to our cars, we drove in torrential rain to the Westin Inn about 10 blocks away.


Amounts in the 24-hour period ending at about 7 AM, July 27, from the CoCoRaHS Network in Douglas County.  Storms were developing and moving in from the west-northwest. More numerous and heavier storms tracked just to the north and east of Lawrence this time (as opposed to the south and east in the major storm event 4 days previous). The automated gauge at the Lawrence Airport, just northeast of town, received about 2 inches with over three inches a short distance to the east of the airport in adjacent Leavenworth County.  My mere 1.71 inches, of which only about 1.1 inches fell from the thunderstorms overnight, is circled at our location in southwest Lawrence.


CoCoRaHS 24-hour rainfall amounts of around 5 inches were common around the Kansas side of the KC metro area. The left edge of the image cuts through central Lawrence (in northern Douglas County). Slightly more than an inch fell from heavy storms in Lawrence (with the remainder from lighter precipitation earlier in the day).  By contrast, in the Kansas City area, all except one to two tenths of an inch fell from the heavy late evening and overnight storms.  This resulted in some serious flooding, especially as this came on the heels of about 2 inches that fell from the monster storm that blew through 4 days previously. The maximum amount seen (on the Kansas side of the metro) is 6.34 inches in Lenexa – an area heavily impacted by the monster wind storm 4 days previously.


CoCoRaHS 24-hour rainfall amounts on the Missouri side of KC.  The greatest amount seen is the 6.43 inches in the east-central part of Kansas City. However, amounts near and over 6 inches are seen west to east across Jackson County and also in the northeast metro in Clay County, not to mention also in the southeast metro in Cass County. Kansas City International recorded 4.34 inches in central Platte County; the downtown airport 3.62 inches; Lees Summit Airport 4.75 inches and the NWS at Pleasant Hill in Cass County came in with 3.19 in their manual 8 gauge. These widespread extreme amounts of precipitation that mostly fell in a period of about 6 hours throughout the metro area resulted in some record high water levels on small creeks and widespread serious flash flooding and property damage.

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