Glen Allen, Mo. (AP) – A tornado ripped through southeast Missouri before dawn Wednesday, killing five people and causing widespread destruction. It has hit the heartland of the country for the past two weeks.
Forecasters are warning of more extreme weather As this year’s heavy storm season continues. The storms have spawned dozens of tornadoes, mainly in the South and Midwest, killing at least 63 people. As of last weekend, tornadoes were confirmed or suspected in at least eight states Dumping of wastes in the country’s vast neighborhoods.
The Missouri tornado touched down around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and moved through rural Bollinger County, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of St. Louis. Trees were uprooted, houses turned into piles, and a building toppled over on its side.
Five people were killed and five others were injured, State Highway Patrol Superintendent Eric Olson said at a news conference. Residents of the village of Glen Allen said some of the victims belonged to a family that lived in a trailer along the state highway.
The trailer was little more than its concrete pads and an axle on Wednesday. A large animal was trapped in a fallen tree branch, and a field was strewn with furniture, clothing and kitchen utensils.
Olson said 12 structures were destroyed and dozens more were damaged.
The damage is concentrated around Glen Allen and the small rural community of Grassy, which are separated by hunting grounds, Bollinger County Sheriff Casey Graham said in a Facebook post. He did not immediately release the names of the victims.
Charles Collier, 61, who owns a storage facility in Glen Allen, said he saw the coroner’s van drive by with its lights on.
“It was a sad, sad sight — knowing there were bodies there,” Collier said. “I was numb, thinking about other people and what they were going through.”
Josh Wells said the tornado tore off half the roof of his Glen Allen home and pushed it against his bedroom wall. Fortunately, as there is a basement, he runs away with his son to his sister’s house beforehand.
“We all ran down and hid on the wall and my brother-in-law went down seconds before we heard the sound of wind and debris crashing around us,” he said.
When his sister’s house was shut down, the propane unit was damaged and the area was gassed.
Midwest tornadoes typically occur in late spring, but this year’s severe weather continues a trend seen over the past few years, said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
“While the current weather system may have several relatively calm days after it moves east over the U.S., we are entering a time of year when the potential for severe weather increases and many parts of the U.S. are at risk,” Bunting said. In an email.
Normally, dry air from the west moves over the Rockies and collides with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, making the U.S. vulnerable to hurricanes and other severe storms, experts say.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson visited storm-damaged areas Wednesday and said President Joe Biden called to confirm federal aid. Local agencies expect several months of recovery efforts, he said.
“I tell you, I know because I grew up in a small small town, these small towns, these counties and these cities come together to help each other,” Parson said.
Justin Gibbs, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Paducah, Kentucky, estimated the tornado was on the ground for about 15 minutes and traveled 15–20 miles (24–32 kilometers).
Based on preliminary data, the tornado received a preliminary EF-2 rating, with sustained winds of 130 mph (228 kph).
Gibbs noted that tornadoes are particularly dangerous when they touch down late at night or early in the morning.
“It’s definitely a nightmare from a warning standpoint,” Gibbs said. “It’s bad anytime, but it’s especially bad at 3:30 in the morning.”
A phone weather alert woke up Bobby Masters, who said debris was tearing into his Glen Allen home as he took shelter in his basement with his family. He remembers hearing a roar as the tornado passed.
“I’ve never heard a tornado before. They say it sounds like a freight train, and it sounds right,” he said. “The good Lord saved us and our family and our house.”
Keith Lincoln, 56, was also awakened by a phone alert. He huddled in a bathtub with his wife and 18-year-old daughter and prayed: “Save us and the house.” Lincoln spent the afternoon patching his roof, but his prayers were mostly answered.
Chris Green, 35, a small black dog was found dead in the wreckage. “I can’t leave it here,” he said, as he and his father buried the animal.
The area is rural, and residents mostly work in farming, logging or construction, said Bollinger County Public Administrator Larry Welker. The population of the district is around 10,500. Affected communities are small, little more than a few scattered homes and businesses.
Storms moving through the Midwest and South threatened some areas Still not recovered from last weekend’s deadly bout of bad weather. At one point, the Storm Prediction Center said 40 million people were at risk in areas including Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee.
In central Illinois, five people were injured and about 300 homes left without power after a tornado ripped through Fulton County Tuesday evening, officials said. Chris Helle, who leads the county’s Emergency Services Disaster Agency, said one of the injured was in critical condition.
Helle said damage was concentrated near Bryant, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of Chicago. Hell said many homes were destroyed, but he praised people for heeding warnings and taking shelter.
Another tornado hit the western Illinois community of Colonna Tuesday morning, officials said. Local news reports say some businesses there have been damaged by the wind.
McFetridge reports from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writers Margaret Stafford in Liberty, Missouri, Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, Trisha Ahmed in Minneapolis and Beatrice Dubui in New York contributed to this report.