St. Louis Tornadoes, Easter Forecast

Happy Easter from Weather Watch 12.

It was a frightening night for people in St. Louis with at least three confirmed tornadoes in the area. Friday evening was a difficult one for me personally because I was worried about friends and family in that area. I grew up in north St. Louis County in Ferguson. This was very near where the strongest tornado hit. I was on the phone with my sister and parents for much of the evening making sure they were safe. Thankfully, the severe weather missed them. My sister lives south of St. Louis and my parents now live in Illinois in a suburb east of the city. My sisters best friend lives in the Maryland Heights area. She had roof damage and her neighbors homes were destroyed. It is very fortunate that no one was killed. Here is a picture she took last night on her street.

The latest damage survey just came out from the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

NWS
St. Louis, Missouri

April 22nd Tornadic Supercell
Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area 

Overview:

A tornadic supercell crossed the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area with many reports of large hail and damage from New Melle in St. Charles County to Granite City in Madison County, Illinois.  Some of the most intense damage occurred in St. Louis County across Maryland Heights, Bridgeton, St. Ann, Edmundson, Lambert St. Louis International Airport, Berkeley, and Ferguson.  Several people were injured by flying debris and glass at the main terminal of the airport.  The National Weather Service will be surveying the tornado damage over the weekend to determine the numberand intensity of tornadoes that occurred.  Below are some pictures of the strom and damage that have been collected from local news outlets.

Preliminary Damage Survey Findings: 

Please note…these findings are preliminary and are subject to change.

 …INITIAL DAMAGE SURVEY INDICATES EF4 DAMAGE IN NORTH ST LOUIS COUNTY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DAMAGE SURVEY TEAM IN NORTH ST LOUIS COUNTY HAS FOUND EF4 DAMAGE IN THE BRIDGETON AREA…NEAR OLD ST CHARLES ROCK ROAD AND HARMON ESTATES.

EF4 DAMAGE INDICATES WINDS OF 166 TO 200 MPH.

SURVEY TEAMS HAVE NOT YET REACHED LAMBERT FIELD…SO NO DAMAGE RATING IS AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME (305 PM 2/23/11)

…INITIAL DAMAGE SURVEY INDICATES EF2 TORNADO DAMAGE NEAR PONTOON BEACH ILLINOIS…

A NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DAMAGE SURVEY TEAM HAS DETERMINED THAT THE DAMAGE IN THE PONTOON BEACH AREA WAS PRODUCED BY A TORNADO…WITH A DAMAGE RATING OF EF2. THE DAMAGE TEAM FOUND AN APPROXIMATELY 100 YARD WIDE DAMAGE TRACK FROM THE LEVEE RD ABOUT 2 MILES SOUTH OF I-270 TO THE INTERSECTION OF ALTON ST. AND PONTOON ROAD NEAR THE RAIL ROAD TRACKS. THE MAXIMUM DAMAGE FOUND WAS IN A NEIGHBORHOOD BETWEEN HWY 203 AND MARYVILLE ROAD. THE DAMAGE WAS RATED EF2 IN THAT LOCATION. THE DAMAGE SURVEY TEAM IS CONTINUING TO BACKTRACK THE TORNADO TO THE WEST. ADDITIONAL TREE DAMAGE OF EF1 INTENSITY WAS NOTED ON THE MISSOURI SIDE OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF RIVERVIEW DR AND CHAMBERS RD.

EF1 DAMAGE INDICATES WINDS OF 86 TO 110 MPH.

EF2 DAMAGE INDICATES WINDS OF 111 TO 135 MPH

…INITIAL DAMAGE SURVEY INDICATES EF1 TORNADO DAMAGE NEAR NEW MELLE…

A NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DAMAGE SURVEY TEAM HAS DETERMINED THAT THE DAMAGE IN THE NEW MELLE AREA WAS PRODUCED BY A TORNADO…WITH A DAMAGE RATING OF EF1. THE TORNADO TRACKED JUST NORTHWEST AND NORTH OF THE TOWN OF NEW MELLE. THE INITIAL TOUCHDOWN OCCURRED JUST SOUTH OF FORISTELL ROAD…AND THE TORNADO LIFTED JUST EAST OF HIGHWAY Z. THE TRACK LENGTH WAS APPROXIMATELY 4 MILES…WITH A DAMAGE WIDTH OF AT LEAST 150 YARDS.

EF1 DAMAGE INDICATES WINDS OF 86 TO 110 MPH.

An EF4 tornado hitting a major metropolitan area without major injuries or deaths is close to a miracle. I want to share some of the pictures of the damage, but want to start with a radar velocity image of the tornado as it moved over St. Louis International Airport. The airport took a direct hit and is still closed.

I want to thank Scott Metsker for sharing the image with me. The area of greatest concern is the bright green area just southeast of St. Charles. This is not a couplet that you would see in a tornado, but actually something that is known as a debris ball. After the tornado hit Maryland Heights it picked up a lot of debris (parts of houses, trees, etc.). This is then seen on the radar as bright radar return. When this becomes visible it is not a good sign. It means the tornado is strong enough to pick up debris and that it is likely a destructive tornado. Here are some of the damage pictures.

This was in Bridgeton. Just west of the airport.

This picture is from Lambert Field. A shuttle truck was actually pushed nearly off of the parking garage.

Before the supercell started forming tornadoes, huge hail was falling in Central Missouri. This picture of baseball size hail is from Hermann.

Our weather pales in comparison in a very good way. After a nice Saturday, Easter Sunday looks pretty good. The only problem is that a lake breeze will form by midday Sunday. This means it will not be as warm as Saturday. I think we will still have some sunshine Sunday morning, but clouds will quickly fill in. Highs will be in the middle to upper 50s inland, but only in the lower 50s near the lake. Happy Easter.

Mark

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Mark and Jeremy —

    Since Mark’s off on the weekends — Jeremy — please pass on to him that I share in his relief that his family was spared the worst of Friday night’s storms? Thanks!

    Also, we can rejoice that it won’t rain on Sunday. The senior members of my church remind me often this time of year that “rain on Easter–rain for seven Sundays!” And it usually works out that way too!

    Hopefully, “Spring” will spring into high gear soon!

    Have a great weekend!

    Happy Easter!

    Don

    • Don,

      I’m working for Jeremy tonight. Thank you for your kind words.

      A blessed Easter to you.

      Mark

  2. Glad to see your family and friends are OK Mark! That looks like one heck of a storm they experienced. My in-laws live in Ealge and although their subdivision was spared from the tornado, the subdivision behind them wasn’t so lucky. It still amazes me driving through the town, seeing the trees all mangled, it makes you realize how powerful these storms can be.

    • Thanks, Nicole. The scars last quite a few years. I was in Oakfield a few years ago and you can still tell where the storm went through. Only small trees.

      Mark

  3. Things in the next two weeks don’t look much better for folks in that area. Monday/Tues/Wed all have some concerns, but aside from the tornado threat – flash flooding is also a concern along with the longer term river flooding. The pattern is conducive for areas along the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio watersheds to continue to catch copious moisture. Also, the Red River in ND and areas nearby will most definitely continue to experience significant flooding. I wonder which town this year Devil’s Lake will consume. Further south across much of Texas and Oklahoma/Western KS – drought continues and likely will get little relief. Even with some convective output of half an inch, most of it would run off. I don’t see an end to many of the wild fires either. Much forgotten in the LRC, aside from the pattern itself and the cycle duration, is the long term longwaves that overtime will have a greater effect on seasonal climate than anything else.

    • I’m definitely concerned about another outbreak Monday-Tuesday in same areas. Rain will continue to line up in same areas across Arkansas, Missouri, Southern IL & IN, and Kentucky. I’ll be waiting to see if this can transition farther north as we move into summer. Happy Easter.
      Mark

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