Heavy storms cause minor damage locally

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sirens sounded early Wednesday morning for funnel clouds

A line of heavy storms moved through the Barry County area Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, causing some damage in the local area.

David Compton, Barry County Emergency Management director, said he and Deputy Director Russ Nichols called out storm spotters at about midnight Tuesday, just as the line of storms crossed from Oklahoma and Kansas into Missouri.

Storm sirens in the city of Cassville began sounding at about 1:15 a.m. due to storm spotter reports of a possible funnel cloud just east of the Seligman and Washburn area, and another report of a funnel cloud near Barry Electric in Cassville.

"We were lucky the only real damage was to trees and power lines," Compton said. "There was a trailer in Washburn that sustained slight damage after some limbs fell on the roof and damaged it."

The National Weather Service also reported a tree limb fell on a car in Washburn. Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff, reported trees near Turkey Mountain 1, south of Shell Knob, were downed by straight-line winds.

According to Bonnie Witt-Schulte, Lawrence County Emergency Management director, some power lines and a tree were downed in Monett on Melody Lane near Highway 37. A tree also fell into a home in Aurora.

"We had some other minor limb damage we could see driving around, but no one called in to report anything else," she said.

Compton said storm spotters consist of a number of local residents, including firefighters, police officers, 911 operators, emergency managers and amateur radio operators.

"We sent the spotters out pretty early because we were watching those storms for several hours going through Oklahoma and Kansas and producing tornadoes," Compton said. "Our spotters were able to identify things that were not showing up on radar, and the things they spotted went on to produce tornado warnings in Stone and Taney counties."

Just past 2 a.m., a tornado warning was issued in Stone County for a storm about 30 miles east of Shell Knob, heading toward Branson West. While no tornadoes have been confirmed in those counties, there were multiple reports of tree damage on Highway 265 in Branson, and Highways and 76 in Forsyth. Trees and power lines in Kimberling City were also damaged.

Compton said the Cassville sirens sounded multiple times per the emergency management policy, which states the sirens are sounded every three minutes, as long as a threat persists.

"Once a storm has moved past the area, we will stop the sirens regardless of any warnings, because the storm has passed," he said. "Last night, we sounded them when the first storm spotter, a firefighter, spotted the funnel cloud past Washburn, then again when we had the report of one in Cassville."

Compton said sirens may also sound if there are sustained straight-line winds toping 70 miles per hour. He said the recent storm produced 60-70 mile per hour gusts, but not sustained straight-line winds.

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