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Storm survey: Tornado, microburst hit Cape Girardeau County

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Storm damage at Hackberry and Sprigg streets is seen Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 after Thursday night's thunderstorms in Cape Girardeau.
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Survey teams from the National Weather Service concluded Friday that Cape Girardeau County was hit by an EF-1 tornado and a separate microburst during Thursday night's severe thunderstorm.

The weather service reported the tornado was about 150 yards wide with winds of up to 105 mph. It hit the southern part of the county near Dutchtown about 7:05 p.m. The microburst, with winds up to 95 mph, hit the south side of Cape Girardeau about 9 p.m. A weak EF-0 tornado with peak winds up to 80 mph hit East Cape Girardeau, Ill., about 7:20 p.m.

"It's kind of strange," said Beverly Poole, a meteorologist at the weather service in Paducah, Ky. "There wasn't as much damage in East Cape with the tornado as there was in south Cape Girardeau with the microburst. That was because of the winds."

Weather service survey teams had been dispatched to locations in Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky to look for evidence of tornado activity, Poole said.

"It can sometimes be difficult to discern if a location was hit by a tornado or was subject to high winds," she said. "The teams that have gone out are approaching things objectively."

The heavy rain and strong winds associated with the thunderstorm overturned trees and left snapped tree branches in some Cape Girardeau streets. In addition, more than 2,000 Ameren Missouri customers in Cape Girardeau County lost electrical power Thursday.

As of Saturday afternoon, all power in the region had been restored, according to Ameren Missouri's website.

The weather service reported the tornado that hit near Dutchtown snapped and uprooted trees, shifted a house slightly off its foundation, damaged roofs and leveled a barn.

Mark Hasheider, assistant fire chief with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, said he had not received reports of storm-related injuries.

"We're glad that's the case," Hasheider said. "The majority of damage were trees that came down and tree limbs that hit power lines. There was also some minor damage to homes, like service lines being pulled away."

According to Hasheider, the hardest-hit part of Cape Girardeau was a 12 square-block area that included William Street to the north, Ranney Avenue to the east, Southern Expressway to the south and West End Boulevard to the west.

"We're continuing the damage assessment there," he said. "There are several power lines in that area and also a lot of branches in the road."

The Public Works Department was busy Friday collecting tree branches from city streets.

"We'll be out picking up debris all day," said Bob Kutak, traffic operations manager of the Public Works Department. "We got called in last night from about 8 until 11 p.m., and we were able to move fallen branches to the sides of the roads. We're busy collecting them today."

Kutak said that Public Works is accepting calls at 339-6351 so residents can schedule tree or brush pickups. The pickups will run through Friday, and trees or brush must be placed next to the curb for crews to pick up the material.

In Jackson, the thunderstorm seemed to have little effect. Jason Mouser, director of the Jackson Emergency Management Agency and chief of the Jackson Fire Department, said there wasn't much damage to assess.

"We dodged a bullet," Mouser said. "We had some wind, but fortunately not a lot of damage. There were some tree limbs down, but I don't think we had any power outages."

Scott County also reported minimal damage.

"We don't really have anything to assess as far as damaged property goes," said Thomas Beardslee, director of the Scott County Emergency Management Agency. "The heaviest action seemed to be in southern Scott County near Sikeston. There were some tree limbs down, but nothing major. We got away pretty clean."

Richard Knaup, director of the Cape Girardeau County Emergency Management Agency, was unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.



Pertinent address:

Paducah, KY

East Cape Girardeau, ILL

Ranney Avenue, Cape Girardeau, MO

William Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

Southern Expressway, Cape Girardeau, MO

West End Boulevard, Cape Girardeau, MO

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The question "What is a microburst?" came to mind.

"A microburst is a downdraft (sinking air) in a thunderstorm that is less than 2.5 miles in scale. Some microbursts can pose a threat to life and property, but all microbursts pose a significant threat to aviation. Although microbursts are not as widely recognized as tornadoes, they can cause comparable, and in some cases, worse damage than some tornadoes produce. In fact, wind speeds as high as 150 mph are possible in extreme microburst cases."


-- Posted by persnickety on Fri, Nov 1, 2013, at 4:02 PM

And yet there are so many areas of south and southwest Cape without tornado sires, including the area near Menards and Dalhousie. The city really needs to be responsible to their citizens first instead of giving money to other communities to purchase storm sirens.

-- Posted by newaroundhere on Fri, Nov 1, 2013, at 5:57 PM

with smart phones, radios,tvs and some common sense there is not a need for tornado sirens

-- Posted by le888 on Fri, Nov 1, 2013, at 9:08 PM

I live on the South side of Cape. Did not have electric for 24 hours exactly to the minute! I just thank God that the damage was not any worse and nobody was hurt! It only took a few seconds when it hit.

-- Posted by Hookie98 on Fri, Nov 1, 2013, at 9:41 PM

Not everyone has a smart phone, le888. And when you are out trick or treating with kids you are not exactly carrying around a television or radio. Sirens help prepare people. Oh, and I did get a weather alert text. 15 minutes after the storm hit, warning me of a tornado warning. semissourian and kfvs weather alert texts both failed me. Sirens do help save lives in certain weather situations . What is the problem with having them in all parts of the community to make sure ALL citizens, regardless of their smartphones or cable TV's, can be warned of severe weather?

-- Posted by newaroundhere on Fri, Nov 1, 2013, at 11:43 PM

le888. we live in SE Missouri. We don't carry tv's around with us and when you turn your head you lose cell phone service Besides, some of us have the common sense and courtesy not walk around with the cell phone in our nose all the time.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Sat, Nov 2, 2013, at 6:50 AM

I'm pretty sure the City of Cape won't get anymore tornado sirens unless the casino pays for them. Seems to be the only way we get anything in this town.

-- Posted by drummz54 on Sat, Nov 2, 2013, at 12:57 PM

I thought a past article said they were putting in some new ones here, too, as part of the casino money. I certainly hope so, and I hope they are near me! That was a scary night. And Parker, we feel the same way. Why should we always have our phone on us, and why should we have a smart phone? No everyone does!

-- Posted by newaroundhere on Sat, Nov 2, 2013, at 10:13 PM

And when you are out trick or treating with kids

you are not exactly carrying around a television or radio.

OMG - you really don't have enough sense to come in when it's storming unless a siren is blowing?? Did I really read that??

-- Posted by suefrommo on Sat, Nov 2, 2013, at 11:00 PM

I was at home but was outside 5 minutes before the storm reached Sikeston. It was calm, no visible lightning, no signs of a storm coming unless you had the tv on. I actually remarked to a family member that I was surprised I could still see the stars considering a strong line of storms was so close.

You really read that.

-- Posted by FarmBoy06 on Sat, Nov 2, 2013, at 11:06 PM

suefrommo, it was NOT storming when we were out trick or treating. A little wind, sky looked fine. It was after 7 so it was dark but we could see the moon and patchy clouds. No thunder, no lightening. Then suddenly the storm with dime sized hail arrived without any warning. People near sirens had the warning because they were going off. AFTER we reached the safety of our basement did we get the weather alert text, which we signed up for since there are no storm sirens in our part of town. OMG, Sue, do not make false assumptions. And OMG, Sue, perhaps you should reread posts and comments before you make idiotic comments. I can firmly guarantee I have much more sense than you.

-- Posted by newaroundhere on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 12:24 AM

Dear Sue. On Aug 28, 1990 an F5 tornado hit Plainfield IL. 28 were killed 353 injured. Immediately prior to the tornado the temp was 92 degrees, high humidity, no rain or wind. The tornado traveled 16 miles, with no way to warn the residents. I guess the residents OMG did not have the common sense to come in out of the sun? Tornado sirens and other warning signs were installed in the following years. Similar tornados hit the area in 2004 and 2007. Although there was significant property damage, there were no deaths and less than ten injuries in each incident the installation of sirens were credited with low incidence of fatalities and injuries.

Think about that Sue.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 5:31 AM

"Conditions were ripe for severe thunderstorm development, and with both low level and high level steering winds from the west-northwest, the National Severe Storms Forecast Center issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for northern Illinois valid 1:30 p.m. through 8:00 p.m. CDT that night." so they did have an idea it could have stormed parker

-- Posted by le888 on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 10:13 AM

So what do you suggest, le888, if there's ripe conditions for a watch then everyone should stay in their basement? Makes no sense. Early warning/siren systems help. Even a minute or two could save lives.

-- Posted by newaroundhere on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 10:50 AM

I hear everyone's arguments on here. Very good arguments. I believe Cape tried the siren thing back in the 1970s and they hired a firm out of Paducah. Those sirens were quickly dismantled and taken down because they did not work right. At that time, the council decided not to pursue sirens and got the taxpayers money back. Fast forward to today. Our technology has come far. Tornadoes are much more predictable by detecting rotation through Doppler radar. In addition, the NOAA has made it possible for people to be warned through their cell phones. The vast majority of tornadoes strike in open fields, or are not strong enough to damage buildings. Even fewer than that result in the widespread damage that the media has hyped up. There has not been a significant tornado in town here since May of 1949, and the high number of casualties from that storm resulted from the lack of a warning due to the unpredictability of storms at that time. I think I would oppose any effort to install tornado sirens at this time, and it should be incumbent on each individual to equip themselves with the means to be warned. Purchase of a weather radio, and/or upgrade your cell phone if you are that concerned about tornadoes. If there was a park with lots of outside activity, then a siren near the park might be of some service. But getting emotional about needing sirens for the once or two times a year for outdoor activities such as trick or treating is probably not rational.

-- Posted by Beaker on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 12:38 PM

Beaker: "the vast majority of tornadoes strike in open fields, or are not strong enough to damage buildings." Well, tell that to the people in Joplin. Maybe those buildings came down from an alien invader strike?

Our technology? Ever watch the local news. Every time there is more than 4 drops of rain they want us to get in our basement. Besides, most of us have a life, we don't sit in front of the television all day long or carry our weather radio.

Have you ever been somewhere your your cell phone did not work? Do you actually use a weather alert. I often get a weather alert either when there is no weather conditions, or, long after the weather has occurred.

The technology you speak of can only determine if the conditions exist for a tornado. The spotter on the ground who sees the funnel in your neighborhood activates the siren. Since local media like KFVS lives on the spector of fear, it is difficult to determine what is real and what is hype.

Tell those people in Joplin that there is no need for a warning system since it will only be used one or two times a year.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 1:06 PM

I pay attention to weather forecast, but it slipped my mind on Halloween evening because we were busy with the little tots trick or treating.

I do not have a smart phone and even if I did, do not think I would have been looking at it.

However, I did hear the tornado warning sirens and we got ourselves home safely.

Cape has sirens, but there were not enough. Additional sirens have been scheduled to be installed and that is a good thing.

-- Posted by survivor* on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 1:31 PM

Quite frankly Parker, I don't worry about tornadoes. People consume themselves with such worry, but a reality check suggests that a tornado like the one that hit Joplin is very rare. I again, reiterate my 1949 example. Tornado sirens are not going to protect you any more than a weather radio or a tv set. They will not go off unless a warning is issued, and then somebody overseeing the sirens takes that warning and blasts the sirens. So if anything, your last argument would suggest NO sirens. They would go off every time a warning is issued...something you suggested you don't want to happen with your statement "Every time there is more than 4 drops of rain they want us to get in our basement". Furthermore, everyone is responsible for their own safety. If you are living by government decisions to blast the alarms, you do have a false sense of security.

-- Posted by Beaker on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 2:12 PM

Might I suggest that the way to fix the issue of false alarms, is to encourage the Department of Commerce to request additional funding for upper air data. The nearest weather balloon site is Springfield, MO, and the NWS tries to fill the gaps by attaching weather monitoring equipment to airplanes...again does not help Cape much because very few flights are routed over Southeastern Missouri. Sirens are not the answer, except near parks with a high amount of outdoor activities. They go off when a warning is issued, and warnings are issued whenever rotation is detected by radar...again a miniscule number of those turn into tornadoes, and the vast majority of those tornadoes are weak.

-- Posted by Beaker on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 2:18 PM


I would venture to claim you drive on government subsidized roads, perhaps fly from rural subsidized airports, have family who attends public schools, drink subsidized diary products... all based on "government decisions".

Warning sirens are part of a townships infrastructure. You alone do not get to make that call. If you want to depend on your smart phone (where warnings are issued by a government agency), so be it; back off other's right to support infrastructure like sirens.

-- Posted by let_it_snow on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 2:20 PM

Beaker, thanks for your comments, I am beginning to see your logic and my life will certainly change.

A miniscule number of people drown while boating, so I am throwing away my life vests and drinking all I can when I boat.

A miniscule number of people get hit by lightning, so I am going golfing during thunderstorms, no more waiting for a tee time.

A miniscule number of people get eaten by alligators, so my vacation in Louisiana will be much better swimming in those little ponds whenever I want.

A miniscule number of people get rabies, so I will no longer avoid petting those foaming dogs.

A miniscule number of people fall off their roof, so it will be a lot more comfortable putting up those Christmas lights if there is snow on the roof.

A miniscule number of people get AIDS, so goodbye safe sex.

Wow, you have opened my eyes.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 5:52 PM

mig your comments have no relevance to topic. Warning sirens are not part of a township infrastructure. Cape did just fine without warning sirens until now. Parker, your sarcasm is disappointing. This is just another case where the government funds unnecessary things to "protect us", when the responsibility and means for our protection lies to us, and is available to us as individuals. Parker said she doesn't like the current warning system because and she quotes "Every time there is more than 4 drops of rain they want us to get in our basement". How do sirens fix that problem?

You quote "The spotter on the ground who sees the funnel in your neighborhood activates the siren." Nope, not at all how it works. The spotter on the ground calls in the report using his/her spotter identification information to the NWS - in this case the NWS office in Paducah. The NWS then verifies the information, and if warranted, issues a warning. Only at that time does a blast go out on the sirens. Having spotters sound off the siren directly would only cause undue panic. Warnings are issued through media such as KFVS 12. KFVS 12 does not, I repeat does not, issues warnings themselves. That is purely a function of the local national weather service.

And Mig, I'm opposed to rural airport funding and I think our "Scott County Municipal Airport" is a waste of resources. Might I suggest you back off shoving your socialistic ideology. This particular forum was a debate on storm sirens, not your political agenda.

By the way a person becomes a storm spotter by taking a 2 1/2 hour class hosted by a local agency with a slide show from the warning coordinator from the Paducah NWS office. Trust me, you do not want put your life in the hands of a bureaucratic process like that.

If you are concerned about tornadoes, than take it upon yourself and equip yourself with the means to be warned, but do not impose taxpayer expenses for something like this.

I myself, am more concerned about a fire in my house. I do not expect the government to warn me when my house catches fire.

-- Posted by Beaker on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 8:01 PM

Thank you beaker

-- Posted by le888 on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 8:20 PM

You're welcome le888. One more note here: the closest radar site is in Paducah, and there is no Doppler radar available in the Cape area. With the distance of the radar from our town, the beams are fairly high up, and may not pick up on the low level rotation. This could be the reason why there are many "false positives", or could even attribute to the lack of warning with some storms. With all due respect to Parker's position on this topic, I think funds would be better spent on a local radar site. I have never understood why Cape always has found itself in the blind spot in the network of national weather service radars. I'm guessing it's because of the sparse population, although other rural locations in MO have Doppler radar satellite stations.

-- Posted by Beaker on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 8:40 PM

No beaker, you expect the smoke detectors which are required in new housing by a law enacted by some bureaucrat to alert you. But then you really do expect some government agency (supported by your tax dollars) to rescue you and your family, to put out the fire, to provide assistance if you are homeless. And if your smoke detectors are not working, you really would expect some police officer to knock on your door and tell you about the smoke pouring out.

Oh, by the way, a reliable spotter, law enforcement officer, etc. can and do activate tornado sirens.

Speaking of the "poor" training spotters get....most CPR training is the result of a few hours watching a film. Would you reject these poorly trained individuals if your heart stopped beating?

The only sirens I have experienced is when a funnel cloud has been spotted or rotation recognized, not when a stray cloud comes over the tv station building. But, the weather people do have to justify their salaries.

You are right, KFVS does not issue warnings, they just tell you to run for your life and kiss your butt goodbye during a strong breeze - but that is really irrelevant to this conversation.

Oh yeah, re the fire, if you didn't have a hydrant close to your house I would bet you would be out there protesting with a sign. I must tell you that hydrants are a waste of money. If people would equip themselves with the proper devices we wouldn't have to worry about fires.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 10:08 PM

Parker I think you are just arguing for the sake of arguing. I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt and even respected your opinion, but I don't feel this debate is going anywhere. You have crossed the line with the irrelevant analogies you've stated and you have posted information on here that is misleading for your own agenda. I buy my own smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and even have my own intruder alarm. Finally, I have my own cell phone, but quite frankly I don't have it set up to beep warnings to me. I'm just simply not worried about tornadoes. But the other devices I own are designed to warn me in advance of danger. Once the danger passes, I may or may not require services, but the reactive phase of disaster was never my point. My point has always been about the warning phase of disaster. People need to take initiative themselves and stop relying on taxpayer dollars. To put up thousands of dollars for tornado sirens when people can furnish their own warning device is ludicrous. I feel that by continuing this debate, it gives you more opportunity to continue to mislead the public when you make statements like you've made already. I'm not sure if you're complaining specifically about channel 12, but you should also know that TV stations are going to sensationalize the news - that's what draws in a captive audience, which in turn draws in advertisers. That is their business. My suggestion would be not to consume yourself with TV weather and live your life to the fullest. If you're concerned about tornadoes somehow hunting your house down, go to Walmart and buy a weather radio, but don't ask to divert taxpayer money from education to fulfill your individual needs.

-- Posted by Beaker on Mon, Nov 4, 2013, at 12:08 AM

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Storm damage in Cape, East Cape
The aftermath of Thursday's thunderstorms is seen Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 in Cape Girardeau and East Cape Girardeau, Ill.
Map of pertinent addresses