Tornadoes kill at least 1 as severe storm cells sweep across Missouri

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

MARSHFIELD, Mo. -- At least one person was killed Monday night when a tornado hit a rural area north of Marshfield in southwest Missouri, the State Emergency Management Agency said.

Ed Gray, a spokesman for SEMA, said two other people were in critical condition after the tornado hit between Marshfield and Conway in Webster County.

A series of tornadic storms moved diagonally across the state, from the southwest corner toward St. Louis. Gray said emergency officials were bracing for more damage as the storms moved through.

"Another line of storms is coming in," Gray said. "We're kind of holding our breaths to see what happens down around the Joplin area."

Marshfield fire chief Michael Taylor said a woman was killed when she was thrown from a mobile home, and at least six people were taken to hospitals by ambulance. Taylor wasn't sure of the extent of the injuries.

He said a number of homes were damaged or destroyed and at least five mobile homes were wiped out along a line covering about seven miles west and north of Marshfield.

Emergency crews were out checking homes and assessing damage, he said.

While it appeared Webster County had received the most damage, tornado warnings were active in several counties as the storms moved eastward.

"Webster County got hit pretty good," Gray said. "It's the focal point right now."

Violent storms began sweeping through central Missouri mid-afternoon, with several tornado warnings in effect as early as 4:15 p.m.

In Columbia, thunderstorms and hail forced some area schools to delay afternoon dismissals and keep buses off the street until the storm passed.

In Moniteau County, witnesses reported a possible tornado touching down four miles northeast of California and moving northeast, KMIZ-TV reported. The weather service could not immediately verify those reports.

The weather service was also investigating reports of possible tornado west of Osceola in St. Clair County, said David Gaede, a meteorologist with the service's Springfield office.

A cold front moving from the west is expected to bring more seasonable temperatures and possible snow to the region Monday night.

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