National Weather Service conducting virtual surveys after Wednesday’s tornado-warned storm

severe storms ripped through Benton and Morgan counties Wednesday
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:29 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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WARSAW, Mo. (KY3) - The National Weather service is conducting virtual damage surveys Thursday after severe storms ripped through Benton and Morgan counties Wednesday.

Oakridge Acres Neighborhood was hit particularly hard just after 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Janet Mitchell, who lives in Warsaw and is just off of Lake of the Ozarks, said, “It’s a disaster, lots of destruction.”

Storms ripped through Warsaw and Cole Camp. Now Mitchell is asking the question: Was it a tornado or straight-line winds?

“We would like to know. I don’t know if we will be able to find out or not, but we will love to know,” Mitchell said.

Just after 2 p.m. Wednesday, the storms moved into Warsaw. Initially, they were severe-warned.

“The sky got really dark here in Warsaw, and it poured,” Mitchell said.

Docks on Lake of the Ozarks, which borders the east side of Warsaw, were ripped up. Debris blew into Mitchell’s yard.

“The docks were twisted around trees, Up in our yard. dock floats that were really heavy were thrown way out on the main road,” Mitchell said.

Just before the storm moved near Cole Camp, it was tornado-warned.

Steve Runnels, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said, “As that line of thunderstorms got closer to Warsaw, there were some indications of circulation developing. Not in the sense of a strong or violent tornado, but more of a short-lived or possible tornado.”

The National Weather service is conducting virtual surveys Thursday. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, they are unable to conduct in-person damage surveys, as they have done in previous years. They are collecting videos and pictures of the storm damage with the help from storm spotters, emergency managers, and eyewitness reports.

Runnels said while a visual confirmation is the best way to know if a tornado went through, damage surveys can provide some clues.

“If we see debris going in multiple directions, in a cyclonic manner, over a path, that’s the next best indication of a tornado,” Runnels said.

While the survey is not complete, the NWS says the damage reports so far are consistent with straight-line wind damage in Warsaw and Cole Camp.

“There were some straight-line winds, and I’m not sure we’re going to have enough to prove there was a tornado,” Runnels said.

Winds were reported to have gusted upwards of 80 mph just south of Warsaw. But near the Lake of the Ozarks, the NWS said winds were much higher. Runnels said this is a good example how you don’t need a tornado for there to be significant damage.

Runnels says to take all weather warnings seriously and when one is issued, take cover.

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