A severe storm system has pummeled parts of the Midwest with tornadoes, huge hailstones and powerful winds, damaging nearly 500 buildings and injuring a dozen people in one Missouri city.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, received reports of more than 30 tornadoes in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois late on March 6 and early on March 7. Powerful winds extended as far south as the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, where a post office and church were damaged, and as far north as Wisconsin, where trees were downed.
In Oak Grove, Missouri, 483 homes sustained some type of damage, along with 10 to 12 commercial buildings, said Sni Valley Fire Protection District Chief Carl Scarborough. Twelve people were treated for injuries by emergency responders on Monday, and three were taken to hospitals with injuries that weren’t life-threatening, he said.
Oak Grove Mayor Jeremy Martin praised the work of emergency crews and said it was remarkable there were no deaths.
“It looks like the injuries are minimal so, based on some of the damage I’ve seen, it’s rather amazing,” Martin said in a morning press conference.
The Kansas City area sustained widespread damage, and crews planned to survey and assess the damage early Tuesday.
Dan Hawblitzel, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, said there were corridors of significant damage in Oak Grove, Smithville north of Kansas City and the Kansas suburbs of Leawood and Olathe. Hawblitzel said there were no immediate reports of fatalities from the storms.
“It played out as we expected — several tornadoes and a lot of wind damage,” Hawblitzel said. “It’s certainly sad to see and hear about the homes destroyed.”
The late-winter storms spawned warnings from the Southern Plains to the Upper Midwest. Baseball-sized hail was reported in parts of Missouri, while hurricane-force winds were reported in parts of Iowa.
The Muscatine Fire Department in Iowa said several homes and businesses were damaged Monday night as power lines were knocked down. The National Weather Service says tornadoes were reported in Clinton County, and a service employee reported sighting a twister southwest of the Davenport Municipal Airport in Scott County. The reports have yet to be confirmed.
A suspected tornado damaged a school in the south-central Iowa community of Seymour. A straight-line wind gust of 90 mph was reported near Belle Plaine in eastern Iowa. There were several reports of inch-diameter hail elsewhere.