Missouri tornado confirmed as storms swept into Illinois

Tornado damage to a storage facility in Fredericktown, Mo.
Tornado damage to a storage facility in Fredericktown, Mo.
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 2:42 PM CDT
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FREDERICKTOWN, Mo. (AP) — The National Weather Service has confirmed a strong tornado that thrashed the southwestern Missouri city of Fredericktown as strong storms that swept the state and into Illinois overnight damaged buildings and knocked out power, but left no serious injuries.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-3 tornado hit Fredericktown Sunday night, damaging homes, businesses, and the main electrical substation that feeds power to the city of about 4,000. A tornado with that rating is considered strong, and wind speeds range from 136-165 mph.

The tornado leveled a storage building in Fredericktown, officials said.

“We had a large, classic fall storm system that developed over the central part of the country. It strengthened as it passed over the St. Louis region,” weather service meteorologist Jared Maples, based in St. Charles, Missouri, told The Associated Press on Monday.

The storms dropped heavy rain, leading to some flooding around tributaries and in low-lying areas, and spawned several suspected tornadoes in eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois.

The weather service was also surveying damage from a suspected tornado at St. Mary, Missouri, about 55 miles southeast of St. Louis, that crossed the Mississippi River into Chester, Illinois. The damage included roofs torn from buildings and toppled trees and utility poles. Crews were also looking into whether the storms spawned tornadoes in rural areas in the northeastern corner of Kansas and throughout the northern half of Missouri.

In Chester, a city of about 8,700 across the Mississippi River from St. Mary, residents reported damage that included a tree falling onto one home and roof damage to a nursing home, said Larry Willis, a spokesman for the Randolph County Emergency Management Agency.

Willis said the nearby village of Bremen “took a direct hit” before the storm dissipated about a mile east of that community. In its wake, a large storage building in Bremen was destroyed, and Illinois Route 150 was closed due to downed power lines and power poles.

“When I was coming down here today, you could see the tops of trees twisted off between Chester and Bremen, so there’s a definite path,” he said.

Felix Meyer, Ste. Genevieve County emergency management director, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that St. Mary, which has several hundred residents, was also without power.

One St. Mary resident, Tina Lowry, was in bed and her sister was in the living room when they heard a whooshing sound Sunday night. Lowry said she took shelter in her closet and her sister hunkered down in the bedroom as the home was ripped apart. Vehicles also were destroyed by the storm.

“I’m just happy we’re alive,” she said.

Earlier Sunday, a video from a KMBC-TV helicopter captured a funnel cloud forming near Kansas City around the Missouri community of Kingston. There appeared to be some damage on the ground, the station reported.

The severe weather in the Midwest came as a powerful storm barreled toward Southern California after flooding highways, toppling trees, and causing mudflows in areas burned bare by recent fires across the northern part of the state. Drenching showers and strong winds accompanied the storm.

The system that hit the Midwest continued east into the Ohio Valley on Monday, said weather service meteorologist Alex Elmore, who is based in St. Charles.

“It has weakened as it moves east,” Elmore said. “There is a chance of severe weather later Monday in the Carolinas and portions of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.”

Forecasters are expecting more stormy weather later in the week. On Tuesday afternoon, parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas could see severe storms, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Forecasters said those storms could bring large hail, strong winds, and isolated tornadoes.

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