ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The National Weather Service office in St. Louis says last night’s storm may have spun up not one, but nearly a half-dozen separate tornadoes, as it moved across the region.
“We’ve got five different areas across the region that have concentrated areas of damage, as best as I can tell,” said NWS Meteorologist-in-Charge Wes Browning. “We’ll be surveying them today and tomorrow,” to determine whether the damage was caused by a twister, or by other factors associated with Sunday night’s weather system, such as straight-line winds. “We actually had measured wind speeds of 60-70mph,” Browning said.
The storm swept through the area just past 11pm Sunday and lasted into the early morning hours Monday. Browning says the areas of concern include Madison and Clinton counties in Illinois and Shelby, Ralls, Franklin and St. Louis counties in Missouri.
The St. Louis damage path includes the stretch between Clayton and I-64/40 on Big Bend, near I-270 from Gravois to Tesson Ferry and also around Concord Village in Mehlville. In Franklin County, a tornado may have touched down near Washington and St. Albans, where there was structural damage to homes. In Shelby and Ralls Counties, neary the town of Perry, north of St. Louis, home owners reported extensive roof damage and whole barns destroyed.
In Madison County, IL, Browning says there was structural damage to homes near Troy, with more homes sustaining damage in Granite City and Edwardsville. Toward Washington IL in Clinton County, Browning said homes sustained damage and several farm structures were destroyed.
As many as a half-dozen people in the Metro East were injured, according to early reports, including a toddler who suffered a broken leg. The storm also tore back the awning of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard Stand on Chippewa, a St. Louis landmark for more than 50 years. But owners say there was no structural damage, and workers are conducting business as usual. Additionally, the storm heavily damaged an Augusta, MO winery. Authorities say the Belducci Winery lost its roof, but there were no injuries.
Beside the damage to homes and buildings, the storm made matchsticks out of power poles throughout the region; as of 11am, around 27,000 Ameren Missouri customers along the storm’s path remained without power – about 10,000 Ameren Illinois customers were still in the dark.
Last night’s weather pattern was very similar to the New Year’s Eve storm that produced an EF-3 tornado in Sunset Hills, MO, according to Browning. “We saw a line very similar to that with all these little hooks and kinks in it that were potentially producing tornadoes,” says Browning. “And we were getting reports of funnel clouds.”
The NWS originally said it suspected the storm produced just two twisters, but Browning says spotters may have missed some tornadoes that spun up, because the rain and the late hour of the night limited visibility. “It would have been virtually impossible to spot these tornadoes.”