Missouri death toll rises; forecast calls for more storms
Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:40 pm
From AP, staff reports
It’s been a week filled with severe weather.
When an EF5 tornado hit Joplin, Mo., on Sunday, 122 people were killed and an estimated 8,000 buildings were destroyed.
The tornado was the deadliest single twister since the weather service began keeping official records in 1950 and the eighth-deadliest in U.S. history.
The search for missing victims of Joplin’s lethal twister moved forward today, even as the National Weather Service has forecast more severe weather for the region.
Forecasters from the National Weather Service have determined that a Tennessee storm that struck Stewart County Monday did include a tornado. Damage was being assessed Tuesday to assign a relative strength rating to the twister.
There were no deaths or serious injuries reported after the storm struck Monday evening in the Big Rock community about 70 miles northwest of Nashville near the Kentucky border. Jeremy Heidt of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Nashville said Tuesday a half-dozen homes in Stewart County had significant damage. There were trees and power lines down across Stewart County, and school was called off because of debris on the bus routes.
Heavy downpours, hail and strong winds lashed Nashville around dawn Tuesday. Trees and power lines were down and police closed a section of Briley Parkway in East Nashville because of debris. Nashville Electric Service reported more than 22,000 customers without power.
Forecaster John Cohen at the National Weather Service office in Nashville said a downburst hit southeastern Davidson County before dawn and moved northeastward across downtown, bringing down many trees and power poles. Cohen said there were no early reports of injuries.
Violent storms with winds of more than 150 mph slammed into a chunk of the central U.S. overnight, killing at least 13 people in three states, flattening homes, crushing cars and ripping apart a rural Arkansas fire station.
The high-powered storms arrived Tuesday night and early today and killed at least eight people in Oklahoma and two in Kansas before trekking east into Arkansas to claim three more lives.
A significant severe weather outbreak is expected late this afternoon into tonight across much of the Midsouth, according to the National Weather Service. Severe thunderstorms are expected to develop this afternoon across eastern Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel between 3 and 5 p.m. before moving east into far West Tennessee and northwest Mississippi by the early evening hours. These storms will have the potential to produce strong tornadoes, very large hail and damaging winds.
In Obion County, there is a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for today with showers and thunderstorms expected mainly before 1 a.m. Thursday when there is an 80 percent chance of precipitation. The chance of showers and thunderstorms will continue Thursday, with a 40 percent of precipitation.
Residents are reminded that a “Watch” means conditions are favorable for severe weather, while a “Warning” means severe weather is already occurring or will occur soon. Watches and warnings are issued for thunderstorms, floods, flash floods and tornadoes. If a warning is issued, the National Weather Service suggests residents move to a basement or a safe area and turn on the local news or a weather radio for further instructions.
The National Weather Service also suggests residents postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. “This is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation,” a spokesman said.
The National Weather Service offers the following tips to prepare for severe weather:
Prepare a family
• Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a safe place.
• Purchase a weather radio for your home to warn you of impending severe weather.
• Assemble a disaster supplies kit containing: first aid kit, non-perishable canned food and hand-operated can opener, bottled water, sturdy shoes, work gloves, battery powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
• Also include in the kit written instructions on how to turn off your home’s utilities.
• If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning. Get to safe shelter immediately.
• Move to a sturdy building or car with a hard top. Do not take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees or in convertible automobiles.
• Get out of boats and away from water. DO NOT take a bath or shower.
• Move to a shelter, such as a basement. If underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.
• Stay away from windows.
• If you are in a car, never try to outrun a tornado. If caught outside or in a vehicle, leave your car and lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression (not a storm ditch).
• Mobile homes should be abandoned as they offer little protection. Move to a nearby shelter.
Flash flood tips
• Know your area’s flood risk. Keep your car fueled; if electricity is cut off, gas stations may not be able to operate pumps for days.
• If roads are closed due to flooding, DO NOT go around roadblocks and DO NOT attempt to drive through flooded streets. Road closings are for your safety.
• Never cross a road covered with water.
Published in The Messenger 5.25.11