80 mph winds damage hundreds of Mo. homes, businesses

Friday, May 2, 2008

GLADSTONE, Mo. (AP) -- Hurricane-force winds, hail and heavy rain moving through Missouri left hundreds of Kansas City-area homes and businesses damaged, and some destroyed.

No serious injuries have been reported. About 23,000 customers were without power across the metro area as of midmorning, Kansas City Power & Light reported. At the peak of the storm, about 40,000 lost power.

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser said Friday that 100 homes suffered significant damage in the city alone. Dozens of other homes and businesses in the city's suburbs were heavily damaged, some destroyed.

Authorities said the worst damage was in the city's northern and eastern suburbs, where power was knocked out to thousands of customers. One Gladstone home was blown off its foundation, and the National Weather Service reported damage in Independence and Riverside as well.

Officials say several people were injured, but none serious.

"Only a couple of people hurt -- not bad -- a couple of stitches," Funkhouser said.

An 18-wheeler was blown over on Interstate 29 in Riverside, near five empty train cars that were toppled. Winds reached 80 miles per hour in the Kansas City area, the National Weather Service said.

Julie Adolphson, meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service office in Mount Pleasant said an initial line of isolated storms came through the Kansas City area between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, producing several tornado warnings and setting off sirens across the area.

A second line of storms came through between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Friday, producing a bow echo, a type of severe thunderstorm that sometimes produces small tornadoes but typically involves damaging straight-line winds, Adolphson said.

A National Weather Service crew was sent to assess the damage to determine whether it was caused by a small tornado or straight-line winds.

"I would estimate, based on the damage they've been noting on the television broadcasts this morning, that we're probably talking about winds in excess of 80 mph," she said. "We have a crew on the ground and should have a better assessment of the damage later today."

Tornado warnings were posted in southwest Missouri overnight. The town of Ava is reporting several buildings are damaged or destroyed, including a school. Ozark schools are closed due to a power outage.

On the Net:

National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/

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