A storm warning issued on Sunday night advised Barry County residents that a tornado warning was in effect for the southern portion of the county. A Washburn firefighter had reported spotting a tornado about six miles west of Washburn.
Officials from the National Weather Service (NWS) now say they plan to investigate whether the tornado touched down in that area of Barry County.
"So far, all we have are reports of tree damage," said David Compton, director of the Barry County Office of Emergency Management. "There was also a bit of flooding between the town of Wayne and Washburn but nothing significant."
That was a potential bullet dodged by the county, which in the past year has suffered significant ice, heat and weather events, resulting in damage to and losses of property and livestock.
"This just illustrates why we need to be prepared at all times," Compton said. "Southwest Missouri is subject to any number of potential disasters, ranging from storm run-off flooding to tornadoes to ice storms that can knock power out for days or weeks."
According to NWS officials, the tornado was described as "rain-wrapped" and may not have been on the ground for very long.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NWS out of Springfield work to keep area residents informed of the latest weather events through television announcements and online access to extended forecast information.
The agency has developed an experimental Enhanced Hazardous Weather Outlook component to its website at www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/.
Residents can access the site and click on any of the hazardous weather links to find up-to-the-minute information about their area, including severe weather, flooding, winter weather, fire weather and other hazards. The link will display the latest version of the weather situation on the screen, so that residents can plan their day accordingly.