A down burst in the Byers area overturned three irrigation systems and caused some tree damage in the city of Byers during a thunderstorm Thursday afternoon.


A down burst in the Byers area overturned three irrigation systems and caused some tree damage in the city of Byers during a thunderstorm Thursday afternoon.

The down burst had winds estimated at 80 mph and occurred at 4:40 p.m., said Jeff Hutton, warning coordination meteorologist for the Dodge City National Weather Service.

One irrigation system on the south side of Byers belonging to Dean Hemphill and two systems about two miles north of Byers belonging to Dwight Ellis and Regena Penka were all sitting east to west when the down burst occurred and rolled the systems over.

Other nearby irrigation systems were not moved in the down burst.  

No other damage was reported in Pratt County from the storm.

A storm chaser, J.W. Waldschmidt of Derby, escaped injury when he was storm chasing north of Byers and had a one-vehicle rollover accident that did not occur during the down burst but was in the same area. Waldschmidt was alone at the time of the accident.

Waldschmidt was east bound on NW 110th Street in a 2001 Chevy S10 pickup when he realized there was a stop sign ahead at NW 70th Avenue, the blacktop north of Byers. He tried to stop but went through the intersection, lost control, went into the north ditch and flipped end over end landing on the top. Waldschmidt was not injured in the accident and credits a headache rack he built for saving his life.

Several storm chasers, including Silver Lining Tours out of Houston, were in Pratt over lunch Thursday at various restaurants watching radar and keeping updated on weather conditions to determine the best place to be to see severe weather.

Roger Hill, co-owner of Silver Lining Tours, said he anticipated storms to form north of Pratt County and probably produce severe weather including possible baseball size hail.

His storm tour group had 20 people including residents of Australia, New Zealand, England, Iceland and Canada. The group was on a 10-day storm tour and traveling in three vans equipped with computers and weather equipment. The group left Pratt about 1:30 p.m. and headed north.