Severe weather hits Johnson County Wednesday morning — Here’s what we know

A shipping container blown into the front of a shopping center complex along 95th Street in Lenexa early Wednesday morning. Photo credit Mike Frizzell.

Mike Frizzell contributed to this report. 

Tornado sirens sent Johnson Countians scurrying to their basements and interior hallways early Wednesday morning as a line of severe thunderstorms that appears to have produced at least one tornado rolled through the Kansas City metro.

Here’s what we know:

‘Radar confirmed’ tornado near Leawood: At 1:25 a.m., the National Weather Service’s Kansas City field office tweeted that “radar confirmed a tornado” moving east near Leawood.

  • Weather alerts went out by phone around that time and tornado sirens began going off in Johnson County.
  • By 2 a.m., the NWS tweeted that the “severe threat is winding down for much of the KC metro.”

  • Other local forecasters also preliminarily concluded later Wednesday morning that a tornado had formed in Johnson County around 95th Street in Overland Park and Leawood.
  • Brad Temeyer with the NWS’s office in Pleasant Hill said they had confirmed “circulation in the southern part of the metro” and were sending out storm survey crews later this morning to gather more information and confirm if a tornado actually touched down.

Damage concentrated along 95th Street: Various reports came in soon after of tree damage and power outages along 95th Street, from Pflumm Road in Lenexa east to State Line Road in Leawood.

  • As of Wednesday at 6 a.m., no major injuries or deaths had been reported by local emergency response agencies.
  • Police across the county responded to numerous burglar alarms, many caused by the gusty winds rattling doors and windows.

What our correspondent saw: Freelance reporter Mike Frizzell was on the scene along 95th Street early Wednesday morning after the storm had passed through. These are some things he saw:

  • In Lenexa, a shipping container was overturned and knocked over a light pole in a parking lot just to the west of 95th Street and Quivira Road. The container hit the front of the strip mall, damaging several windows.
  • Police also closed Pflumm Road from Santa Fe Trail Drive to 94th Terrace due to several large tree limbs and utility lines being down across the road.
  • Further east, in Overland Park, public works crews were working to restore power to multiple traffic signals. Several street signs in the 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue intersection were bent over and ripped from their posts. The storm also toppled a pedestrian crossing signal.
  • A block east of Metcalf at Barkley Street, public works crews removed the entire signal housing from the traffic light poles due to extensive damage.
  • Firefighters across the county responded to downed powerline calls and a few assists for residents with medical equipment dependent on electricity.
  • Leawood Police closed a stretch of 95th Street from Canterbury Street east to Belinder Road due to at least two utility poles snapped by the storm.

Power outages: By 6 a.m. Wednesday, Evergy’s online outage map was reporting more than 1,000 localized outages across the Kansas City metro, leaving nearly 55,000 customers without power.

Elsewhere in metro: Police in Lee’s Summit say a lightning strike likely caused a house fire at around 2 a.m. that was mostly brought under control by 2:30 a.m.

  • “The storm caused damage to tree limbs, a few downed power lines and blew around loose objects but caused no significant structural damage,” Lee’s Summit Police said in a news release Wednesday morning.

Mike Frizzell is a freelance crime and fire reporter who runs Operation 100 News.