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Brief Thunderstorms Pose Less Danger for Flooding

Dan Warner
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) - The whirlwind thunderstorm that shook the St. Louis area in the early morning hours today was actually a blessing in disguise.

The storm moved through the area very quickly, which reduced the impact of its heavy rains on the looming threat of Missouri River flooding.

Wes Browning, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the storm poured up to an inch of rain throughout the city, in some areas taking only 15 minutes to do so. With heavy rain like this, Browning said, the damage would be much greater if the storm had moved slower.

“That’s what we don’t want to see this summer,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s not that unusual in the Midwest during the summertime period.”

Browning said the most dangerous storms exhibit “training,” or repetitive storms one after the other. He said these storms are likely to hit the area this summer, which will add to the threat of flooding.

The location of the storms along the Missouri River also partially determine the impact of rains on flooding, as precipitation that strikes the mouth of the river near St. Louis will have less of an effect on water levels.

Browning said quick-moving storms can still be dangerous in urban areas. This morning’s storm included up to 60 mph wind gusts that split tree limbs up to eight inches in diameter. Damaged power lines left around 3,500 households without power. Browning said that if the heaviest parts of this morning’s storm had struck downtown St. Louis, or another area with a large amount of concrete, dangerous flash flooding could have occurred.

Copyright KMOX Radio

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