Two Dead in Missouri Flash Flood; Tornado Threat in the South

March 27, 2023

GROVESPRING, Mo (AP) — A car was swept away and two passengers drowned early Friday in Missouri during torrential rains that were part of a severe weather system roaring across parts of the Midwest and South.

The accident happened just after midnight in a sparsely populated area of southwestern Missouri. Authorities said six young adults were in the vehicle that was swept away as the car tried to cross a bridge over a flooded creek in the town of Grovespring.

Four of the six made it out of the water. The body of Devon Holt, 20, of Grovespring, was found at 3:30 a.m., and the body of Alexander Roman-Ranelli, 19, of Springfield, was recovered about six hours later, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Thomas Young said.

The driver told authorities that the rain made it difficult to see that water from a creek had covered the bridge, Young said.

Meanwhile, the search continued in another southwestern Missouri county for a woman who was missing after flash flooding from a small river washed a car off the road. The Logan Rogersville Fire Protection District said the victim’s dog was found safe, but there was no sign of the woman. Two others who were in the car were rescued. Crews planned to use boats and have searchers walking along the riverbank.

Some parts of southern Missouri saw nearly 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain Thursday night and into Friday morning as severe weather hit other areas. A suspected tornado touched down early Friday in north Texas as a volatile storm system threatened to spawn tornadoes in several Southern states.

Matt Elliott, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said severe weather is expected across several states.

“We’re talking several tornadoes, including some that might be strong and intense,” Elliott said.

The Storm Prediction Center warned the greatest threat of tornadoes would come Friday afternoon and evening in portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Storms with damaging winds and hail were forecast from eastern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma into parts of southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois.

“Now is the time to start checking batteries on your weather radios and making sure you have multiple ways to receive weather warnings, but also having a plan so that if storms start approaching your area and warnings are issued you’re able to get yourself and your family to a place that’s safe,” Elliott said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned of potential tornados reaching the state overnight and urged residents to prepare for severe weather, including damaging winds and hail. The risk of personal vulnerability increases with overnight severe weather as residents are less likely to receive warnings because they are asleep and tornadoes are more difficult to spot, according to the National Weather Service.

In Texas, a suspected tornado struck about 5 a.m. in the southwest corner of Wise County, damaging homes and downing trees and power lines, said Cody Powell, the county’s emergency management coordinator. Powell said he had no reports of injuries.

The weather service had not confirmed a tornado, but damage to homes was also reported in neighboring Parker County, said meteorologist Matt Stalley. Investigators likely will go to the area later Friday to make that determination.

The two areas are about 10 miles (16 kilometers) apart on the western edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and Stalley said the storm system was expected to move east of the region by early Friday afternoon.

–Associated Press writer Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri and Jackie Quinn in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.

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