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TOPEKA, Kan. – Blowing dust from damaging winds is creating hazardous travel conditions and closing roads across parts of central Kansas.
The National Weather Service in Wichita said the city of Russell hit 100mph at the airport about 4 p.m. Wednesday.
An air quality index of 99 was reported as of 3 p.m., putting Wichita on the verge of unhealthy levels.
"We are advising residents, especially those in sensitive groups, to consider limiting time outdoors until air quality improves," city officials said on Twitter.
Multiple roads in western Kansas were closed as of 1:50 p.m., including Interstate 70 from the Colorado state line to Russell, Kansas, because of low visibility from blowing dust and crashes blocking the roadways.
Multiple roads in western Kansas are closed, including I-70 from the Colorado state line to Russell, because of low visibility from blowing dust and crashes blocking the roadways. As of about 1:50 p.m.— Kansas Department of Transportation (@KDOTHQ) December 15, 2021
Check https://t.co/ybdet0hivW but avoid travel if possible. pic.twitter.com/R9gw43mdiu
The damaging wind gusts have also caused downed tree limbs, downed power lines and property damage, the National Weather Service in Wichita said.
The NWS in Dodge City said they received wind gusts at 1:11 p.m. at 84 mph. Their strongest thunderstorm wind gust in Dodge City was 79.4 mph on June 23, 2018.
"This 84 mph wind was not from a thunderstorm but from the RAW power of the atmosphere itself," the NWS said.
The NWS also said that widespread wind gusts could locally exceed 70 mph.
This comes as an extremely powerful storm system moves across the Great Plains and Upper Midwest through Tuesday night.
Extremely Critical Fire Weather also exists from the northern Texas Panhandle to north-central Kansas. The high winds combined with low relative humidity will create an environment ripe for any wildfires to spread rapidly and uncontrollably, the NWS said.
Newton city officials tweeted out a photo about 2 p.m. of the mast arm on a traffic light that was toppled over during the high winds.
The mast arm on the traffic light at First and Meridian has gone down in the high winds today. The intersection will be a flashing four-way stop until we can get this repaired. Be cautious out there today! pic.twitter.com/XRT8ceZkAl— City of Newton, KS (@CityofNewtonKS) December 15, 2021
The Overland Park, Kansas, Fire Department was on the scene about 3:30 p.m. after a large tree fell into a house. No one was home, and no injuries were reported.
Across state lines, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said a semi truck below was affected by the wind and ultimately rolled over on Route BB south of Route N in Jasper County. The driver did not have his seatbelt on and was ejected, troopers said.