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Category Archives: Outdoors

Sunday storm drops EF-0 tornado on northern Osage County

Results of a National Weather Service survey found evidence that an EF-0 tornado touched down briefly Sunday evening, May 19, 2024, north of Burlingame, Kan., as thunderstorms blew through the area. Extensive straight line wind damage from the storm has been reported in the northern Osage County and southwestern Shawnee County, and another tornado reportedly touched down briefly near Dover a short time later.

The Osage County tornado was reported to have touched down around 9:44 p.m. about 5.5 miles north of Burlingame, near 125th Road between Burlingame Road and Hoch Road. The NWS survey said the tornado primarily caused tree damage along the farm ground and pastureland in the area. The tornado had a path of about 40 feet wide and traveled along the ground for about one mile, with wind speeds estimated as high as 85 mph. It ended around 9:48 p.m. about one mile southeast of the Kansas Turnpike.

Another EF-0 tornado touched down around 10:08 p.m. near Dover, in Shawnee County, and lifted about 10:10 p.m., leaving a path about one-tenth of a mile long and 30 feet wide. The NWS survey said this tornado might have started further east, where there was no access to the surveyors. Only tree damage was noted and winds were estimated at 80 mph. NWS said this tornado had been indicated on radar, which showed a small debris signature in the area around that time.

Grab your bait and pole: It’s time for fishing at Pomona State Park!

Fishing friends at a fishing derby. File photo.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office, Kansas Wildlife and Parks, and the Douglas County chapter of Fishing’s Future will host a fishing derby at Pomona Lake, Saturday, June 1, 2024. The derby will be at the Kansa Campground, at Pomona State Park.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by the fishing derby, lawn games, and a hot dog lunch. Prizes will be awarded for most fish caught in different age ranges, and a drawing will be held for raffle prizes.

The fishing derby is a free event, and it’s a free fishing weekend across Kansas, so no fishing license is required to participate. Additionally, during the fishing derby hours no vehicle permit fee is required to participate.

Information thanks to Osage County Sheriff’s Office.

Land management experts offer prescribed burn classes

The Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are hosting prescribed burn plan trainings across Kansas this month, with a training May 30, 2024, at Burlington as the closest to Osage County.

The burn trainings are offered to landowners, ranchers, producers, burn contractors and others involved in the use of prescribed burns as a land management tool.

Attendees will learn how to optimize land management practices with prescribed burns and properly create burn plans. Access to financial assistance will also be discussed. The sessions, led by KGLC and NRCS experts, will provide opportunity to network with industry professionals and fellow practitioners.

Registration for the trainings is requested at www.kglc.org/kglc-news.

All of the sessions will run 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Training dates and locations are May 28 at Russell; May 29 at Marquette; May 30 at Burlington; and May 31 at Manhattan.

April 16, 2024: Tornadoes cut early morning paths across Osage County

Osage County woke up to tornado warnings Tuesday after two tornadoes touched down along narrow paths through the area. The National Weather Service reported the two EF1 tornadoes left at least two people injured and significant damage to numerous buildings and structures.

The first reported tornado touched down at 5:51 a.m. April 16, 2024, just north of the Eisenhower State Park, with winds up to 110 mph. NWS surveyed the paths of the tornadoes yesterday, and reported this tornado started about a mile north of the state park, traveled north about one mile and then shifted to the northeast about one mile before lifting up at 5:56 a.m. near Salt Creek about two miles west of Lyndon. NWS recorded the tornado’s path as 3.5 miles and its path at 100 yards wide. NWS said that tornado damaged mainly trees and outbuildings in central Osage county, but one home was shifted on its foundation.

Tornado paths in Osage County, April 16, 2024. NWS map.

The next EF1 tornado touched down about 15 minutes later, at 6:07 a.m., about four miles west-southwest of Overbrook, near 197th Street and Berryton Road. That tornado moved north-northeast for approximately 13 miles before ending near the town of Richland in southeast Shawnee County. The tornado had winds up to 100 mph and a path of 75 yards.

NWS reported two people were injured when a RV they were in flipped over. A residence near U.S. Highway 56 and Paulen Road suffered significant damage, including loss of roof material, and other damage. A residence near 121st Street and Shawnee Heights road was reported as having significant window and glass damage, along with damage to a nearby outbuilding. The last surveyed damage in the tornado’s path was at a residence near 105th Street and Shadden Road in Shawnee County. NWS reported the tornado ended at 6:27 a.m. after traveling 12.6 miles

NWS emergency alerts in the area went out about 5:55 a.m. when NWS first reported seeing tight circulation about three miles southwest of Lyndon.

Spring has sprung and Osage City is smokin’

Spring is here and that means it’s time for Osage City to start the coals for the town’s annual barbecue party. The 21st annual Smoke in the Spring State BBQ Championship fires up Friday evening at Jones Park with the “Taste of Osage City”, where food lovers can get their fill from menus featuring BBQ favorites or eclectic side dishes.

This year’s “Taste” gets underway at 5 p.m. Friday, and will feature 19 barbecue teams offering their favorite outdoor cooked fare in exchange for BBQ Bucks. BBQ Bucks can be used to purchase food, drinks, and other items at the event. BBQ Bucks will be sold on site, 1-7 p.m. April 5, at the Osage City Community Building concession windows. BBQ Bucks have no expiration date and can be used at future events. Ahead of time, BBQ Bucks can be purchased at Osage City Hall.

While the party focuses on fine smoked meats, cooks serve up a menu not likely offered anywhere else with Jones Park is transformed into a giant outdoor smorgasbord. A map of vendors and their menus is available here.

As the party starts cooking, around 7 p.m., the band Chance Encounter will heat up the amps for an evening of classic and modern rock ‘n’ roll in the OCPR building; the show is open to all ages. The recreation building is also the spot for cooling off your palate with the Ridge Iron Grill, a local bar that is tending a beer garden and offering beverages of all types.

A variety of other local vendors and charities will have booths offering beverages, baked goods, and other items that can be purchased with BBQ Bucks.

For the kids, bounce houses and inflatables will be available 4-8 p.m. Friday near the recreation building, weather permitting.

Really sparking the Friday event will be a fireworks show ignited by local pyrotechnician Scott Farmer, with fireworks provided by Garret Fireworks. The show will begin after dark, and will be fired off from open area south of OCPR building. Spectators will be able to see the show from about anywhere in Jones Park or the surrounding area.

“Bring a friend, have a beverage, eat some BBQ, stay for the music and fireworks,” said Corey Linton, the contest’s organizer for 18 of its 21 years.

Parking is crowded around the park, but Osage County Public Transportation will offer rides from the Osage City school parking lot 4-9:30 p.m. Friday. Freewill donations will be accepted for the shuttle. Parking is also available on the west side of the road west of the football stadium, weather permitting.

While the party simmers, competition chefs will get serious about tending their smokers overnight and in the morning for the annual Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned state championship. More than 100 competitors are signed up to cook the KCBS required categories, chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket. Cooks can also compete in the category of turkey as part of the nationwide Turkey Smoke competition sanctioned by the National Turkey Federation. This is the fifth year Smoke in the Spring has hosted a Turkey Smoke.

ESU to provide live stream of April 8 total eclipse

Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered at the Emporia State University campus in August 2017, the last time a solar eclipse was viewable in this area. ESU photo.

EMPORIA, Kan. – Emporia State University is offering the opportunity to view a total solar eclipse via live stream when the Earth’s moon moves in front of the sun Monday, April 8, 2024. Viewers can watch by visiting emporia.link/eclipse. The live stream begins at 12:40 p.m. local time with an introductory video, followed by the eclipse, which will last until 3:25 p.m. Totality, or the mid-eclipse point, will occur at 2:08 p.m.

The event is made possible by ESU instructor and Peterson Planetarium director Mark Brown, who will travel to Indianapolis. This is necessary because the total eclipse won’t be visible from Emporia. Those in Emporia, however, will be able to see a partial eclipse beginning at 12:34 p.m.

“This event is unique because the moon’s shadow will be about 45 miles wider than it was in 2017 and will touch more populated areas than it did in 2017,” Brown said. “Also, this is the last total solar eclipse that will cross the United States until Aug. 12, 2045.”

For more information about ESU, see www.emporia.edu.

OCEM continues burn ban through Tuesday

Update: Osage County Emergency Management has issued a burn ban today, March 12, 2024, due to increased wind speeds and low relative humidity values. The ban is in place until 8 a.m. tomorrow, March 13. During a burn ban, no outside burning is allowed and all county burn permits are suspended. National Weather Service at Topeka forecasts a high temperature near 76 today, with south wind 10 to 15 mph and gusts as high as 25 mph.


Willing Workers help the Easter Bunny stockpile eggs for Osage City’s hunt

Willing Workers 4-H Club stuff eggs for the annual hunting season, front from left, Clara Thielen, Emmit Ford, Mason Newman, Kassie Thielen, Ruby Stucky, and James Ford, back, Leila Wilcoxson, Izzy Ford, Claire Newman, Paige Thielen, Avery Talkington.

By Lena Stucky
Club Reporter

The Willing Workers 4-H Club has been hard at work stuffing more than 2,000 eggs for the annual Easter Egg hunt, which will be March 24, 2024, at the Osage City ball fields. At 1:30 p.m., the Easter Bunny will be escorted in by the Osage County Sheriff’s Office for pictures, and at 2 p.m. the hunt will begin.

We have had many local businesses donate some great prizes for this event.

Health advisory: KDHE offers safety tips for prescribed fire season in Flint Hills

TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reminding Kansans that March and April are when large areas of the state’s rangelands are burned by prescribed fire, especially within the Flint Hills.

Prescribed fire is a tool used by landowners and managers to help preserve the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, control invasive species, reduce woody encroachment from species such as Eastern Red Cedar and provide better forage for cattle. Prescribed burning also reduces the risk of wildfires and is effective in managing rangeland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas. The use of smoke management techniques is vital to reduce the air quality and health impacts.

KDHE will activate the Kansas smoke modeling tool in early March, prior to widespread burning in the Flint Hills. The computer models use fire data and current weather conditions to predict the potential contribution of smoke and air quality impacts to downwind areas. There are approximately 2.2 million acres burned on average in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma each year.

“We are entering the 14th year that we have been able to provide this important tool for the prescribed fire community,” Jayson Prentice, meteorologist at the KDHE Bureau of Air, said. “We continue to encourage ranchers and land managers to utilize smoke modeling resources, such as the smoke modeling tool to mitigate potential air quality impacts.”

Prescribed burns release large amounts of particulate matter and other pollutants that can form ground-level ozone. Particulate matter and ozone can cause health problems, even in healthy individuals. Common health problems include: burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis. People with respiratory conditions, cardiovascular diseases, children and the elderly are more vulnerable to experience symptoms.

OCEM issues burn ban for Sunday, March 3, 2024

NWS issues red flag warning

Osage County Emergency Management has issued a burn ban today for the entire county, and the National Weather Service at Topeka has implemented a red flag warning in effect from this morning, Sunday, March 3, 2024, through 6 p.m. for much of northeast and northcentral Kansas.

Osage County’s burn ban is in place until 8 a.m. tomorrow, March 4. During the burn ban, no outside burning is allowed and all county burn permits are suspended. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will soon. Forecast high winds coupled with relative humidity as low as 11 percent and warm temperatures creates conditions for extreme fire behavior.

The NWS red flag warning in effect from 11 a.m. this morning to 6 p.m. this evening due to low relative humidity, gusty winds, and dry fuels. Winds are forecast to be southwest and shifting to the west 15 to 25 mph, with gusts of 30 to 40 mph. Relative humidity is expected to be 11 to 16 percent in the afternoon. The temperature is predicted to be near 80 degrees this afternoon.

Under conditions of extreme fire danger, fires start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. All outdoor burning should be avoided in areas with extreme fire danger.

For more information about the burn ban, contact Osage County Emergency Management at 785-828-3323 or the Osage County Sheriff’s Office at 785-828-3121.

OCEM issues Leap Day burn ban in Osage County

NWS issues red flag warning

Osage County Emergency Management has issued a burn ban today, Feb. 29, 2024, for the entire county, and the National Weather Service at Topeka has implemented a red flag warning in effect from this morning through 8 p.m. for much of northeast and northcentral Kansas.

Osage County’s burn ban is in place until 8 a.m. tomorrow, March 1. During the burn ban, no outside burning is allowed and all county burn permits are suspended. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will soon. High winds coupled with relative humidity as low as 20 percent and warm temperatures creates conditions for extreme fire behavior.

Under conditions of extreme fire danger, fires start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. All outdoor burning should be avoided in areas with extreme fire danger.

See related story: NWS issues red flag fire weather warning for Thursday in northeast Kansas

For more information about the burn ban, contact Osage County Emergency Management at 785-828-3323 or the Osage County Sheriff’s Office at 785-828-3121.

NWS issues red flag fire weather warning for Thursday in northeast Kansas

The National Weather Service in Topeka has issued a red flag warning for Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, covering much of northeast Kansas. The fire weather warning will be in effect 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday due to forecast strong winds, low humidity, and dry fuels in the warning area.

In addition to Osage County, the warning area includes Republic, Washington, Marshall, Nemaha, Brown, Cloud, Clay, Riley, Pottawatomie, Jackson, Jefferson, Ottawa, Dickinson, Geary, Morris, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Douglas, Lyon, Franklin, Coffey, and Anderson counties.

NWS forecasts south-southwest winds Thursday, sustained at 15 to 25 mph and gusts 25-40 mph. Strongest winds are expected in northcentral Kansas. Relative humidity is expected to be in the 13 to 20 percent range.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring or will soon. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior. Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly. Outdoor burning is not recommended.

OCEM issues burn ban for windy Tuesday in Osage County

NWS issues red flag warning

Osage County Emergency Management has issued a burn ban today for the entire county, and the National Weather Service, Topeka, has implemented a red flag warning in effect from this morning through 6 p.m., Feb. 27, 2024, for Osage, Jefferson, Morris, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Douglas, and Franklin counties

Osage County’s burn ban is in place until 8 a.m. tomorrow, Feb. 28. During the burn ban, no outside burning is allowed and all county burn permits are suspended. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will soon. High winds coupled with relative humidity as low as 20 percent and warm temperatures creates conditions for extreme fire behavior.

Under conditions of extreme fire danger, fires start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. All outdoor burning should be avoided in areas with extreme fire danger.

In addition, Osage County and central, east central and northeast Kansas are in a wind weather advisory from 5 p.m. today until 3 a.m. Wednesday. NWS predicts southwest winds at 15 to 20 mph this afternoon with gusts of 25 to 30 mph, then switching in the mid to late afternoon to northwest winds sustained at 30 mph and gusts around 45 mph expected. NWS advises that gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and power outages can  result.

For more information about the burn ban, contact Osage County Emergency Management at 785-828-3323 or the Osage County Sheriff’s Office at 785-828-3121.

KDOT to start work on new section of the Flint Hills Trail in Franklin County

The week of March 4, 2024, the Kansas Department of Transportation expects to start work on a Transportation Alternatives project that will add a new section to the Flint Hills Trail State Park, in Franklin County. The new 2.3-mile section, located west of Ottawa, Kan., extends west from Louisiana Terrace to Iowa Road.

Project activity includes constructing the 10-foot-wide multi-use trail and a pedestrian bridge over the BNSF Railway and improving three existing bridges. The 3.4-mile signed county road detour will be deactivated when work on the new section is finished.

The Transportation Alternatives Program covers on and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, and Safe Routes to School sidewalk improvements. Upon completion of the Franklin County project, the Flint Hills Trail will have 93 miles of continuous traversable trail for bicyclists and pedestrians from Osawatomie to Council Grove.

KDOT awarded the construction contract of $4.9 million to Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co. Inc., of Wichita, Kan. Persons with questions may contact construction manager Ian Stringham at 785-433-6116 or public affairs manager Priscilla Petersen at 620-902-6433.

Frontier Extension District school to promote safe and effective prescribed grassland burns

Speakers to share guidelines for planning and conducting burns, and having necessary tools

By Carol Engle
Frontier Extension District Communications and Marketing Manager

OTTAWA, Kan. – K-State Research and Extension Frontier District will host a school to teach attendees how to plan and conduct a safe and effective prescribed burn of grasslands. Tools needed for burns will also be discussed. The school will be held 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, at the Neosho County Community College, Ottawa Campus, 900 E. Logan St., Ottawa, Kan. A chili lunch will be available with a donation appreciated to cover costs. Registration is requested by Friday, Feb. 23, to Rod Schaub, Frontier Extension agricultural agent, at 785-828-4438 or rschaub@ksu.edu.

Presenters for the school will include Ethan Walker, NRCS range specialist, David Kraft, Kansas Grazing Land Coalition, Justin Harbit, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and Nathan Griesemer, National Weather Service. Topics will include reasons to burn, weather conditions for burning, equipment needed and planning for and conducting a burn, fire behavior, hazards and precautions, liability and CRP rules.

Corps waives user fees on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

OMAHA, Neb. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will waive day use fees at more than 2,850 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, 2024.

The waiver covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches. The waiver does not apply to camping and camping-related services, or fees for specialized facilities and events. Other agencies that manage recreation areas on USACE lands are encouraged, but not required, to offer the waiver in the areas that they manage.

Visitors are encouraged to contact USACE lake and river projects before visiting to ensure recreation areas are open. For more information see www.corpslakes.us.

The MLK Day fee waiver began in 2023 to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, a national leader of the 1950s-1960s Civil Rights movement, and who continues to inspire the pursuit of civil rights today. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Kansas state parks to offer New Year’s Day hikes

Hikers are invited to celebrate the New Year with fun, fresh air, and scenic views by participating in a First Day Hike at a Kansas state park. The self-led and guided hikes are organized annually by parks staff to encourage individuals and families to start the year on the right foot, by getting outside and connecting with nature.

This year, more than 1,000 hikes will be available in state parks around the United States, including 33 First Day Hike events hosted by Kansas State Parks. While the distance and rigor of the hikes will vary at each state park, all aim to create a fun experience for all. Savor the beauty of the natural, cultural, and historical resources state parks offer, and be inspired to continue taking advantage of these local treasures throughout calendar year 2024.

“This will be our 13th year to offer First Day Hikes in Kansas’ state parks and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Linda Lanterman, Kansas State Parks director. “Each year, these events grow more and more popular because they’re a fun and healthy way to start the New Year, they’re a great cure for cabin fever, and they’re held in some of the prettiest parts of our state.”

Locally, hikes are available at Pomona State Park and on the Flint Hills Nature Trail.

  • Pomona State Park will offer a mixed route with a one-mile hike and a four-mile hike. Hikers should meet at 10 a.m. Jan. 1 at the park office. The one-mile hike will be good for young family groups and those not wanting a strenuous hike. The four-mile hike will be medium in difficulty due to the terrain. Hikers could see cedar waxwings, eagles, foxes, woodpeckers, owls, pelicans and other wildlife. Contact Pomona State Park at 785-828-4933.
  • The Flint Hills Nature Trail hike will begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 1, 2024, from the Council Grove trailhead at Seventh and Walnut streets in Council Grove. The trail is described as easy in difficulty, with participants encouraged to bring a bike to ride the trail. For more information, contact Flint Hills Trail State Park at 785-448-2627.

Kansas state parks’ staff recommend being prepared for the hike and consider bringing the following, if possible: Water, snacks, weather appropriate clothing such as hat, gloves, heavy coat, suitable shoes for hiking, binoculars, hiking stick, and camera

With limited availability, First Day Hike T-shirts will be offered to participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Depending on the park, a vehicle permit could be required; contact the state park for details.

NWS issues flood warning for Lyndon area; flash flood warning for east central Kansas

The National Weather Service is warning of localized flooding in the Lyndon, Kan., area Wednesday, and possible flash flooding across Osage, Franklin and Coffey counties at mid day.

The NWS flood warning is for Salt Creek at the south edge of Lyndon, which was approaching flood stage of 10 feet as of 6:46 a.m. today, Oct. 25, 2023, when the warning was issued. Minor flooding is forecast with flood effects expected to end by Thursday morning.

NWS reports that at a flood stage of 10 feet, Salt Creek is bank full and minor lowland flooding begins in a farm field west of the U.S. Highway 75 bridge, near the south Lyndon city limit. At 14.3 feet, water overflows the north bank of the creek and flows into fields north of Salt Creek east of the U.S. 75 bridge. At 16.0 feet, South Berryton Road floods three miles east of Lyndon. The creek is expected to rise above flood stage of 10 feet this morning, and crest at 14.5 feet this afternoon. It is forecast to fall below flood stage this evening.

Tuesday’s overnight rain, estimated at three to nine inches locally, has also resulted in NWS issuing a flash flood warning for Osage County, northwestern Coffey County, northwestern Franklin, which is in effect this morning until 10:30 a.m.

At 6:24 a.m., Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the warned area, with between three and nine inches of rain having fallen overnight. At the time of the warning, flash flooding was ongoing or expected to begin shortly. Flash flooding can occur on small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses, and other poor drainage and low-lying areas.

NWS warns of areas on Interstate 35 between mile markers 144 and 153, and 169 and 181, which are known to flash flood. Other locations that can experience flash flooding include Ottawa, Osage City, Lyndon, Centropolis, Lebo, Pomona, Quenemo, Melvern, Reading, Olivet, Pomona Lake And Melvern Lake.

NWS warns that most flooding related deaths occur in vehicles and drivers should heed the saying, “Turn around, don’t drown” when encountering flooded roads. Drivers are advised to be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.

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