April 25, 2014

Weather Service warns of possible life-threatening storms today

Most of Missouri will have one round of severe weather to contend with today, that could include tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and flooding. Some of Missouri will have two.  

This graphic from the National Weather Service Office in St. Louis shows where the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma says there is a risk for severe weather today.

This graphic from the National Weather Service Office in St. Louis shows where the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma says there is a risk for severe weather today.

National Weather Service Meteorologists say storms today will be life-threatening and are urging Missourians to prepare now for severe weather. Governor Jay Nixon (D) has declared a state of emergency in response to the storms already happening and those to come.

A tornado watch has been issued for 21 counties in southeast and south-central Missouri, for storms that have already prompted a tornado warning in Arkansas this morning. Those storms are anticipated to sweep northeast from southwestern Missouri through the St. Louis area.

These storms could produce large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. Flooding is a possibility locally in southern Missouri, and more so in central and east-central Missouri where heavy rain has already fallen overnight.

Then for this afternoon will come storms that have caused the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma to say much of central and southern Missouri has a “moderate” risk for severe weather.

This graphic from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill illustrates the threats of severe weather today.

This graphic from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill illustrates the threats of severe weather today.

Today’s threat of tornadoes is the highest the state has been under so far this year, according to Meteorologist Jayson Gosselin with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

“Unfortunately there will probably be at least one tornado in the state and there could be quite a few,” says Gosselin.

“It looks like it should warm up by this afternoon and get very unstable and a cold front will head from west to east across the state. Out ahead of that and along it we’re expecting thunderstorms that are going to be capable of very large hail, very strong winds as well as tornadoes possible.”

Storms are expected to form in Kansas and Oklahoma before sweeping through the state, first as discrete supercell thunderstorms, which Meteorologist Ryan Cardell with the Weather Service Office in Springfield says are generally the most dangerous.

“They can produce large hail, damaging winds and possibly stronger tornadoes,” says Cardell.

Farther east, storms are expected to gather into a line.

“At that point the threat will switch over to being more of a straight-line wind threat with isolated tornadoes. That will happen early in the evening sometime.”

Flash flood warnings have already been issued in a swath of central and eastern Missouri where rainfall totals have ranged from between 2.5 to more than 3 inches from storms overnight. Gosselin says if more heavy rain does move through, more flash flooding issues are likely.

“Everything is very saturated now,” says Gosselin.

“This is a good time … before the storms have formed … to dust off your emergency plans,” says Cardell. “Make sure that’s all ready so that when the watches do come out you can kind of start heightening your situational awareness to where the storms currently are, if they’ve formed, things like that, so that way you’re kind of ready. When the tornado warning happens you’ve got one foot in place heading into your disaster plan.”

For information for your area, tune in to your Missourinet affiliate station and visit these Weather Service office websites.

In northwest and western Missouri:  Kansas City (Pleasant Hill) and on Twitter @NWSKansasCity

In northeast and eastern Missouri:  St. Louis and on Twitter @NWSStLouis

In southwest Missouri:  Springfield and on Twitter @NWSSpringfield

In southeast Missouri:  Paducah, KY and on Twitter @NWSPaducah

Scotland and Clark counties:  Davenport, IA and on Twitter @NWSQuadCities

Crews responding to pipeline explosion north of Sedalia (UPDATED with Video)

3:15am UPDATE:

Matt Evans with KMBC tweets: “Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond: Several buildings still on fire near the pipeline explosion. Fire crews still working those fires.”

3:06am UPDATE:

A rupture and explosion in a gas pipeline in west-central Missouri overnight sent flames into the air that were visible for miles. Residents in Sedalia reported their homes were shaking.

The rupture happened around 1 a.m. south of Houstonia in a 30-inch gas natural gas pipeline outside a compressor station. Media reports indicate Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company shut off the flow of gas to the line and reported the fire on the pipeline was out around 2:30 a.m.

The company says no injuries or fatalities occurred. The cause of the rupture is under investigation.

Panhandle experienced a rupture in 2008 in Cooper County that resulted in a similar explosion. Flames in that incident were seen by witnesses more than 70 miles away.

In the 2008 rupture, more than 13-million cubic feet of natural gas was released and damage was calculated at more than $1-million. The cause of that rupture was attributed to corrosion.

2:34am UPDATE:

Matt Evans with KMBC in Kansas City tweets:  “Panhandle Eastern spokesperson: fire is out, valve is shut off & the company is now investigating exactly what happened.”

2:02am UPDATE:  

A representative of Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co says a 30-inch natural gas pipeline outside a compressor station has ruptured and exploded.  The company says there have been no injuries or fatalities. 

The cause is under investigation.

See a short video posted by Youtube user John Pahlow of the explosion and fire below:  

Original story: 

Representative Stanley Cox retweeted this photo taken by Frank Higgins of the fire resulting from an apparent pipeline rupture north of Sedalia.

Representative Stanley Cox retweeted this photo taken by Frank Higgins of the fire resulting from an apparent pipeline rupture north of Sedalia.

Emergency crews are responding to an explosion in west-central Missouri’s Pettis County.

Representative Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia) has tweeted that the explosion happened about 15 miles north of Sedalia in the Hughesville area, on the Panhandle Pipeline.   The Pettis County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed a pipeline explosion south of Houstonia.  A five-mile radius around the explosion has been evacuated.

Missourinet will have more information as it becomes available.

Drought expands slightly in Missouri since last week

Graphics courtesy; US Drought Monitor

Graphics courtesy; US Drought Monitor

Two more percent of Missouri is categorized as being in drought conditions according to the latest update from the U.S. Drought Monitor, released this morning.

A look at the Drought Monitor Map reveals that “abnormally dry” conditions have spread farther south, particularly in the Kansas City area. Three percent more of the state is listed in that category than in the previous week. Slightly less of the state is considered to be in “moderate drought.”  

The Seasonal Drought Outlook released last week by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center includes a prediction that drought in Missouri will persist or intensify through February 28, 2014.

Report: better building codes, public shelters could have saved lives in Joplin tornado

A federal report on the May 2011 Joplin tornado says better building code standards and public shelters could save lives when storms like that happen.

The May 22, 2011 Joplin Tornado killed 161 people and injured 1,000 and caused $3-billion in property damage, destroying about 7,500 homes and 553 businesses.

The May 22, 2011 Joplin Tornado killed 161 people and injured 1,000 and caused $3-billion in property damage, destroying about 7,500 homes and 553 businesses.  (photo courtesy; Naitonal Weather Service)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a nearly 500-page report containing 47 findings and 16 recommendations.

The Institute began its study within days of that EF-5 tornado, that killed 161 people.

It learned that many people in Joplin tried to ride out that storm in homes, public buildings and businesses. Its report says fewer people would have died if those structures were built to resist tornadoes.

According to the Institute’s Director of Disaster and Failure Studies Eric Letvin, “Neither residential nor large commercial buildings in Joplin adequately protected building occupants. There were no community shelters in Joplin in May 2011 and residents had limited access to underground or tornado-resistant structures.”

The Institute recommends the development of national performance-based standards for tornado-resistant building designs, installation of tornado shelters in buildings, and the creation of national codes and standards for clear, consistent and accurate emergency communications.

Joplin City Officials have received that report. City Manager Mark Rohr says the City’s view is that residents should find shelter in a storm as close as possible to where they are when it hits.

“We’re not convinced that exposing themselves to the elements by getting out in the car and going to some kind of public shelter is the best idea given all the circumstances that are surrounding a tornadic-type event,” Rohr says.

Rohr says he will have city staff go over the report and prepare recommendations to present to the city within the next month.

See the report here.

Jason Rima, KTTS in Springfield and Darrin Wright, KZRG in Joplin contributed to this report.

 

A village is gone; a community remains (AUDIO)

Two and a half-years ago the little southeast Missouri village of Pinhook paid a devastating price so the Illinois town of Cairo might survive the worst Mississippi River flood in decades.  But residents retain hope there someday will be a new Pinhook.

Mayor Debra Tarver says the 35, or so, residents of Pinhook had only a few hours to get their belongings out of the village before the Corps of Engineers blasted a hole in a levee, letting water pour through the Mississippi River floodway.  The action took some pressure off of Cairo.  But Pinhook took the brunt of the diverted water.

Tarver says there’s no hope of moving back to the now-wrecked village.  Residents hope federal recovery money eventually will let them rebuild, but not back in the floodway. “We would have to build our homes, like, 15 feet off the ground,” she says, “It’s just not feasible.” 

Tarver says it’s a little frustrating.  But she knows the federal relief agencies are working on the situation.  She says it’s just going to “take a while” for all the paperwork to be done. Tarver says the residents have faith that God will see it through.

[AUDIO: Tarver interview 11:03