Little damage reported in Cape County

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mark Winkler knew early in the day Tuesday that the Southeast Missouri region he oversees for SEMA could be hit hard by storms.

But he didn't expect to spend part of his night in a basement on the campus of the Immaculate Conception parochial school in Jackson, a school that was partially destroyed by a tornado in May 2003.

But as the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Cape Girardeau County around 7 p.m. Tuesday, the basement is where Winkler and others watching or playing in a basketball game there spent part of their time.

The storms that rolled through Cape Girardeau County on Tuesday night did little damage but caused plenty of fright.

"We were awfully lucky," Winkler said of the storm system that caused scores of deaths in neighboring states.

Most of the storms' effects were related to flooding, and some hail was reported in Cape Girardeau County.

The National Weather Service regional office has plans to survey the effects of the storms in Southeast Missouri, but survey teams were busy Wednesday looking at damage from tornadoes in Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee, as well as a reported tornado in Ripley and Butler counties in Missouri, said Beverly Poole, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Ky.

While the storms were less violent and deadly in Southeast Missouri, the area still experienced significant storm-related events reported by the National Weather Service.

Those events include a flash flood near Delta on Route P, possible tornado damage in Ripley County, Mo., a possible tornado sighted near Poplar Bluff, Mo., pea- to quarter-size hail on Highway 177 in Cape Girardeau County, a possible tornado sighted near Gideon, Mo., wind gusts of 60 mph near Price Landing in Scott County.

As for the tornado warning issued for Cape Girardeau County, Poole couldn't give specific details on the track of that storm as it moved through the area because of the sheer volume of severe storms Tuesday night.

But Poole said that despite there being no funnel cloud or tornado touchdown, the tornado warning for Cape Girardeau County was warranted.

"Without question, we were in a tornadic environment," Poole said.

Highway 25 in Stoddard County near Bernie, Mo., was closed for much of Wednesday due to power lines knocked down by a storm, but the road was reopened Wednesday afternoon.

Poole said the weather service's Storm Predication Center had put Southeast Missouri at a "high" risk for severe weather -- the highest risk possible -- for the first time in about 18 months Tuesday.

And Poole said the Paducah office will still be taking reports and gathering data on storm damage for days.

"We still have information coming in," Poole said.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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