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Storms, rain, possible tornadoes pummel Missouri; woman dies in flooding near St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS — Another night of strong storms and torrential rain swept across Missouri, leading to a flash flooding death in eastern Missouri and two apparent tornadoes in suburban Kansas City.

The storms began Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning, dropping up to 5 inches of rain after a soggy, record-setting June. A woman died when her car was swept off a road in Jefferson County, near St. Louis.

Wind was the bigger problem in suburban Kansas City. Lee's Summit Fire Chief Rick Poeschl said two tornadoes touched down, damaging a strip mall's roof and breaking windows, though no injuries were reported. Lee's Summit North High School had minor damage, and a fireworks tent was blown over. Poeschl said the tent had been evacuated moments earlier and no customers or workers were inside.

"We had limited warning because the storm basically formed right over the top of us," Poeschl said.

Throughout the state, heavy rain caused creeks to overflow and storm water to back up. Dozens of water rescues were reported, mostly motorists trapped by fast-rising water in suburban Kansas City, Columbia and the St. Louis area.

The worst of the flash flooding was in Jefferson County, where two vehicles were swept into Buck Creek near the unincorporated town of Hematite.

Jefferson County emergency management director Warren Robinson said a woman's body was found about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, a mile or so from where the vehicles were fast-moving water pushed the vehicles into the creek.

Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer said authorities were searching for 50-year-old Angela Kirby of Festus. Her GMC Safari van was one of the vehicles swept away. But Robinson said authorities don't yet know if Kirby was the person found in the creek.

Two mobile home parks in Jefferson County, with about 30 residents each, were evacuated as 5 inches of rain fell in just a couple of hours Wednesday night.

"The West Coast is dying for rain and we just want a day without it," Robinson said.

Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a no-wake policy at Lake of the Ozarks after the rain caused the water level there to rise dramatically. The order is expected to remain in effect until Saturday, when water will be released from Bagnell Dam to lower the lake level. The order means boats must operate at idle speed to limit the risk of damage to docks and boats.

St. Louis officially received 13.14 inches of rain in June, making it the wettest June on record and the second-wettest month in the state since records have been kept, behind only August 1946. July, so far, has been more of the same, and forecasters are calling for spotty rain over the next several days.

Several rivers remain well above flood stage. The Mississippi River is starting to recede, while more rain is expected to cause the Missouri River to rise again in eastern Missouri. The National Weather Service projects that the Missouri River will reach more than 8 feet above flood stage in Hermann on Friday and nearly 7 feet above flood stage in St. Charles on Saturday.

Buyouts since the 1993 flood have removed most homes from the flood plain, but the high water is swamping tens of thousands of acres of farmland and closing dozens of roads. It is also causing some river towns to alter Fourth of July events.


Associated Press reporters Margaret Stafford in Kansas City, Missouri, and Summer Ballentine in Jefferson City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

PHOTO: A billboard is silhouetted against storm clouds after a thunderstorm passed though the area Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Higgensville, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A billboard is silhouetted against storm clouds after a thunderstorm passed though the area Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Higgensville, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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Video:
PHOTO: The National Weather Service says a tornado has touched down in suburban Kansas City on Wednesday, but there are no immediate reports of injuries. (July 1)
The National Weather Service says a tornado has touched down in suburban Kansas City on Wednesday, but there are no immediate reports of injuries. (July 1)
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