A severe storm system pummeled parts of the Midwest overnight with tornadoes, huge hailstones and powerful winds, damaging nearly 500 buildings and injuring a dozen people in one Missouri city.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, received reports of more than 30 tornadoes in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois late Monday and early Tuesday. Powerful winds extended as far south as the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, where a post office and church were damaged, and as far north as Wisconsin, where trees were downed.
In Oak Grove, Missouri, 483 homes sustained some type of damage, along with 10 to 12 commercial buildings, said Sni Valley Fire Protection District Chief Carl Scarborough. Twelve people were treated for injuries by emergency responders on Monday, and three were taken to hospitals with injuries that weren’t life-threatening, he said.
Oak Grove Mayor Jeremy Martin praised the work of emergency crews and said it was remarkable there were no deaths.
“It looks like the injuries are minimal so, based on some of the damage I’ve seen, it’s rather amazing,” Martin said in a Tuesday morning press conference.
The Kansas City area sustained widespread damage, and crews planned to survey and assess the damage early Tuesday.
Dan Hawblitzel, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, said there were corridors of significant damage in Oak Grove, Smithville north of Kansas City and the Kansas suburbs of Leawood and Olathe. Hawblitzel said there were no immediate reports of fatalities from the storms.
“It played out as we expected – several tornadoes and a lot of wind damage,” Hawblitzel said. “It’s certainly sad to see and hear about the homes destroyed.”
The late-winter storms spawned warnings from the Southern Plains to the Upper Midwest. Baseball-sized hail was reported in parts of Missouri, while hurricane-force winds were reported in parts of Iowa. The storm system was weakening as it moved to the east but the Storm Prediction Center said parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama could see severe thunderstorms Tuesday.
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