Storms rake Missouri; possible tornadoes near Kansas City

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By JIM SALTER

(ST. LOUIS, AP) — Another night of strong storms and torrential rain swept across Missouri, this time with possible tornadoes in suburban Kansas City and water rescues and evacuations across the state.
The storms began Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning, dropping up to 5 inches of rain after a soggy, record-setting June.
Wind was the bigger problem in suburban Kansas City. Lee’s Summit Fire Chief Rick Poeschl said two tornadoes touched down, damaging a strip mall’s roof and breaking windows, though no injuries were reported. Lee’s Summit North High School had minor damage, and a fireworks tent was blown over. Poeschl said the tent had been evacuated moments earlier and no customers or workers were inside.
“We had limited warning because the storm basically formed right over the top of us,” Poeschl said.
Throughout the state, heavy rain caused creeks to overflow and storm water to back up. Dozens of water rescues were reported, mostly motorists trapped by fast-rising water in suburban Kansas City, Columbia and the St. Louis area.
The worst of the flash flooding was in Jefferson County, near St. Louis. Fast-flowing waters pushed two cars off a bridge over Buck Creek Spur on Wednesday night near Hematite, though there were conflicting media reports about whether the cars had been abandoned.
Firefighters found the vehicles Thursday morning, but there were no signs of occupants. Jefferson County emergency management director Warren Robinson said there were no reports of missing persons.
Two mobile home parks in Jefferson County, with about 30 residents each, were evacuated as 5 inches of rain fell in just a couple of hours Wednesday night.
“The West Coast is dying for rain and we just want a day without it,” Robinson said.
St. Louis officially received 13.14 inches of rain in June, making it the wettest June on record and the second-wettest month in the state since records have been kept, behind only August 1946. July, so far, has been more of the same, and forecasters are calling for spotty rain over the next several days.
Several rivers remain well above flood stage. The Mississippi River is starting to recede, while more rain is expected to cause the Missouri River to rise again in eastern Missouri. The National Weather Service projects that the Missouri River will reach more than 8 feet above flood stage in Hermann on Friday and nearly 7 feet above flood stage in St. Charles on Saturday.
Buyouts since the 1993 flood have removed most homes from the flood plain, but the high water is swamping tens of thousands of acres of farmland and closing dozens of roads. It is also causing some river towns to alter Fourth of July events.
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Associated Press reporter Margaret Stafford in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.