Record temps followed by high winds, damage

Saturday, December 27, 2008 | 2:19 p.m. CST

KANSAS CITY — A warm front that brought record high temperatures to Kansas City on Friday collided with a cold air mass overnight to produce high winds and rare late-December thunderstorms that left 36,000 people in the metro area without electricity.

As of late Saturday morning, Kansas City Power & Light still had about 24,000 customers without power, but the company hoped to get most back up by the end of the day.

“This storm rolled through so quickly and with such force,” said Katie McDonald, spokeswoman for KCP&L. “That’s what did it.”

She said the winds knocked trees and poles down onto power lines, which caused many of the outages.

Tornado warnings were in effect Saturday in the St. Louis area, with several reported touchdowns north of the city that damaged a few homes, barns and outbuildings, but no reported injuries.

Meteorologist Ron Przybylinski with the Weather Service office in St. Louis said damage was reported in New London, Bowling Green and Troy in northeast Missouri from what are believed to have been tornadoes.

In Kansas City the temperature reached 66 degrees Friday, breaking the old record of 63 degrees that had been set in 1954. That was followed by a cold front that roared through the area after 4 a.m. Saturday, sparking thunderstorms and bringing straight-line winds as high as 61 mph in parts of the metropolitan area.

The Weather Service issued a winter storm warning when it appeared that the rain and falling temperatures would develop into an ice storm, but canceled that Saturday morning after the rain started moving out of the area.

“If it were still raining, we’d still be getting freezing rain,” Ryan Cutter, a meteorologist with the Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill, said Saturday morning. “It looks like we won’t get too much in the way of freezing rain, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get a snow band and sleet this afternoon.”

Cutter said some parts of the metro area got around an inch of rain Friday night and into Saturday, while other areas received only a fraction of that.

Still, the storms were noteworthy because of their timing, he said.

“This is pretty significant this time of year,” Cutter said. “Even for Missouri, this is outside the norm.”



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