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    Monday, January 07, 2008

    It Was A Dark And Stormy Night: Liveblogging The Midwest Tornadoes

    It is storming here pretty badly, a huge stream of storms coming northwest from Oklahoma straight up through Springfield and up into and past the Lebanon area in Missouri. Pretty creepy.

    On the first storm, we were driving straight into the stream, trying to drive quickly to the nearest safe place. We got here in time and without incident. There are baseball sized hail, heavy rains, and high winds. I am trying to get a photo of the weather map to show to you.

    The unseasonally hot weather the past couple of days, breaking hundred-year highs yesterday with temperatures in the upper 60's has caused severe weather when the chill reenters the air. High pressure and low pressure trying to regulate makes for nasty outdoors.

    6pm got to the safe place and set up. Turned on the TV for weather and opened up a bunch of weather websites.

    6:15 called all of my friends and family that I had the numbers of. Everyone is safe.

    6:35 In the north of town, Faith has found and photographed a piece of hail larger than a golf ball. They are safe, her son Zman has stored it in her freezer.

    7:08 I took a film of the severest of the storms I've seen personally. Very wet out there.

    7:44 There are reports of two missing women, property damage, and two tornadoes have been spotted thus far this evening.

    7:48 Roofs reported torn off of houses, semis flipped, and a trailer home rolled into a building across the street from it's previous location.

    7:52 Flash flood warnings have now been issued due to too much rainfall.

    8:00 Found a photo for you finally. Posted it at the top of the entry. The sirens sing on and Keebler has changed the channel. I guess he's bored with the weather situation. There are two more storms headed up this way, but we have already endured two which were very indicative of tornadoes when seen on the radar.

    8:21 Here's that video I took. It will play, just click the arrow.

    The winds are huge, gusting at over 70mph, and the tornado watch is scheduled to continue until 5:30am.

    8:24 This second storm has left Greene county.

    8:45 The tornado warnings for Springfield have now expired. There is another on it's way, however, and it is slated to be here in another 45 minutes or so.

    8:47 56 yo Nancy Greene of Marshfield, resident of a mobile home in Webster county between has been found dead, a victim of the tornado. I wish her family comfort in this difficult time.

    8:51 I have to run an errand before the next storm shows up. I'll post again when I get back.

    9:28 We are back safe. New tornado and T-storm warnings all over the area. One storm threatened to turn around and come back, but does seem to have traveled on at this time. Several homes in Springfield have been destroyed, and there are large trees uprooted, but only minor injuries reported so far. A shelter has been opened in Strafford in the gym of the high school, and it has about 100 people in it at the moment. Search and rescue teams are scouring Greene county for folks who need picked up and taken to shelters in preparation for the next wave.

    9:40 Republic elementary #3 had the roof ripped off of the 5th grade wing, destroying their computer lab and many books. It is suspected that there will be no school tomorrow for the students there.

    9:50 A new tornado warning has been issued for southeastern Greene county until 11pm. It does not effect Springfield at this time. Just south and east of Ozark, there has been some "major rotation" spotted. The storm over Rogersville has been declared "huge". Hail, flooding, and wind gusts of above 70mph.

    10:00 School is confirmed canceled in Republic for tomorrow, abandoned cars are everywhere from people who ran away from their vehicles seeking shelter. A convenience store has been damaged and there have been several injuries coming into the local hospitals from the storm. 106mph winds in Phelps county. Most of the current tornado warnings are set to expire at 11pm.

    10:17 We can hear storm cell #3 rolling into Springfield now, and they are predicting that this will last for the next several hours. Several new storms seem to be developing near Harrison, AR, and Ava, MO. They are not severe at this time, but are being watched very carefully.

    10:25 Highlandville (Christian county) 5 homes with severe damage, roads blocked and flooding. Wall cloud between Highlandville and Nixa. Northern OK has severe storms. Mcdonald and Barry counties have been issued a tornado warning at this time. Phelps county has 25 cattle dead, several people missing, houses demolished by storms and fire, and several barns flattened.

    10:32 On the news: Earlier in the evening, for the first time in their careers, the meteorologists in the TV station ran for cover in the bathrooms there. You get a feeling the storms are bad when the weatherfolks repeatedly say that this is not the time to grab the video camera and run outside, and that everyone in the path of the storm must take shelter immediately. I have never heard them say it as much as they have said it tonight. You know it was bad when they tell you that they were hiding in the bathrooms while they were saying those things.

    11:05 A Strafford resident, Rachael Lawson, has died in the hospital due to storm-related injuries. The storms are awesome and terrifying. The destruction to material goods and homes is horrible, but the taking of lives is almost too much to bear. My heart goes out to those who cared for the deceased. These storms have extended for 6 hours so far, and more storms are forming. Greene county is now under a severe thunderstorm warning again.

    11:20 Several hundred City Utilities customers are currently without power, but the company is working hard to get it turned back on. More tornado warnings are constantly being issued, and others are now being allowed to expire. Please visit weather.com to see what is going on in your area throughout the night.

    11:36 Just found out that there are some homes destroyed in Lebanon, MO, and several people are hospitalized with weather related injuries. I hope a speedy recovery to all of those injured by the storms tonight.

    11:48 Liveblogging the storms, from the safest room in the house. Look, it comes equipped with a chair! *grin*

    11:51 Leaving to pick up Keeb's mom from work. She walks to work, and I'm not letting her in this weather. Better to get her back quickly while there's a lull in the storms. She tells us that she spent quite a bit of time in the hallway at work tonight.

    12:11am Back to safety, we are all very, very wet. The rain is pouring down, and thunder is intermittent.

    12:20 All tornado warnings for southwest Missouri have now been lifted. There are still some very serious storms however, with high winds and hail continuing to be expected, and tornado watches are ongoing. The television station has returned to their regularly scheduled programming.

    12:39 Learned a new term tonight; "Hook Echo". This is a term used in meteorology that talks about a curve in a storm system. These curves are picture perfect indicators of the circular wind patterns that create tornadoes.

    12:57 Looks like we have the all clear and it is going to stick for the rest of the night. There's flooding everywhere, and debris in many areas, so drive safely if you have to be out on the roads tonight or tomorrow. I'm done for the night.

    Good rest to you!

    2:41am Guess I wasn't done for the night. The sirens just went off again. Looking at the radar, I see one storm cell right over Springfield, and another close grouping of smaller severe storms not far behind. These storms are fast-moving but have some serious boomerang shapes to them (thanks Moosie!), otherwise known as hook echoes.

    2:55 We just heard the roof lift a bit and took refuge in the bathroom. On the weather sites again, watching the radar animations.

    3:04 Can't see the TV, relying entirely on the radar maps on the internet, just like the pros. The wind is whipping the sounds of even the closest sirens away from us, so for several seconds at a time, there is silence, all but the howling of the winds. The storms are moving fast, east, northeast. This looks to be the worst of the storms that we are in right now, with everything to the east simple T-storms.

    3:17 Someone has spotted a funnel cloud in southwest Springfield near the Rivercut golf course. If it is a tornado or forms into one, the wind direction will take it right through the center of town.

    3:25 The tornado warning has been canceled. We're in a calm spot right now, preparing for the scattered and less dense storms that are coming our way. I'm a bit concerned about the hook that I see on the radar below us, but right now, even that looks less severe than what just passed us.

    3:45 Moosie just lost power. The hook at the end of the storm cell seems to be dissipating into some pretty harmless thunderstorms, smoothing out it's edges and jags, signifying a loss of circular motion within the storm itself. If things continue on the way they look right now, we're in for some thunder and more rain, and that's it for the rest of the morning. More storms developed last time I thought we were relatively in the clear, however, so I'm not saying anything for certain.

    4:00 I was right, there are more storms forming in the center of OK and down into Texas, I wonder if they will travel up here to cause trouble as well?

    4:22 The storms I saw earlier are increasing in severity and moving right towards us, but still don't have the tell-tale signs of tornado creation, and I'm exhausted. Keebler's mother will wake up if the sirens sound again, and she'll wake us. In the nice time, I'll leave the meteorology to the professionals. Before tonight, all I knew about reading satellite weather imaging was how to tell if there was heavy rains, and now I'm the go-to person for extra storm-tracking info when my friends don't feel that the weatherfolks are enough. I never said I wasn't a quick study, nothing like a 12 hour crash course to get one competent in a skill. *chuckle*

    4:31 Tonight has made me sure that we will need an in-motion satellite system for the RV though, as my access to the internet tonight has made all the difference, and a regular RV sat system would have to be shut down in severe weather or risk being blown off in the storms and high winds. I'm off to bed.

    Update on 1/8/08: There were 7o tornado warnings last night, rating up to EF3, and with hurricane force wind gusts. The worst of the damage was in Western Webster county and Eastern Greene county. Twelve homes were obliterated, and over 100 were damaged in the storms. Two people left this world for the next, and the government is considering declaring the area a disaster so that those effected by the storm can get financial assistance to rebuild their lives.

    The night of tornadoes will be remembered and talked about by area residents for generations to come.

    [where: Springfield, MO]

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    warpedmoose said...

    it is creapy out there. my dad had teeth pulled today, so started pot of soup at four pm. went to leave at six and hail came down. ended up leaving round 7. made it fine, went in between the storms. they have a basement. and the bigger storms were headed to my house, and not so much my parentss who live on the greene/polk county line. stayed out there till ten when it looked clear long enough to go back toward the storms. as i was taking the girls in the house, big bang. scared poor A to death. S was fine with it. S in bed, A on mini couch in living room, hubby dont have a clue whats going on, hes been asleep since nineish, and me, like i can sleep. someone has to stay awake and make sure a tormato isnt going to take off with the family that is happily asleep till the next big bang. if anyone is reading this tonight, pop on yahoo im and talk to me, i need something to do to keep me awake, just no phone calls, loud ring tone and sleeping kids.

    muttcats said...

    One of Shannon's gaming buddies lost his home tonight in Lebanon. He and his family were inside when it was destroyed. He doesn't have a scratch on him buy his parents are in the hospital.

    Whimspiration said...

    Moosie, I'm glad you got home safe. Truning on messenger now. -> Kryistina

    Muttcats, I hadn't heard a lot of reporting about Lebanon getting much action. I'm so sorry for his friend. :( I hope there are speedy recoveries all around and his parents come out of this okay health-wise.

    Summer said...

    How scary! I'm glad you made it through OK. Crazy weather, tornados in January! Luckily where I'm at on OK was the edge so we just got thunder and lightening, and lots of rain.

    Lots of thoughts for those who didn't get so lucky during the storm!

    Tara R. said...

    I'm glad you came through the storms okay... I live in Northwest Florida and have rode out a couple of hurricanes... weather can take on a life of it's own. Stay safe.

    Rambleman said...

    FYI- We are and were fine up here in Long Lane, MO. Lost power for 12hours, but other than that... no damage. Glad you're okay.