KANSAS CITY — Waves of powerful thunderstorms swept across Missouri on Wednesday, spawning scattered tornadoes from the Kansas City area to the Bootheel but causing few injuries and only pockets of damage.
Sirens began blaring in the Kansas City metropolitan area at about 11:30 a.m. as dark storm clouds made their way north toward the city. At least two weak tornadoes touched down in or near the suburbs of Harrisonville, Mo., and Overland Park, Kan., but there were no reports of injuries or significant damage, meteorologist Julie Adolphson said.
Wailing sirens and dozens of warnings prompted anxiety throughout the day as they brought to mind the monster EF-5 tornado that killed at least 125 people in Joplin and destroyed much of that city Sunday.
Wednesday's heaviest destruction was reported in Sedalia, 75 miles east of Kansas City, where a tornado damaged several homes and businesses and prompted officials to end the school year several days early because of damage to buses. Fifteen to 25 people suffered minor injuries, officials said, and most were able to get themselves to the city's hospital for treatment.
Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond said thoughts of Joplin may have made Sedalia residents more cautious when the sirens sounded and spared the city from more serious injuries.
"Considering the destruction that occurred in Joplin — being that we're in tornado alley, and Sedalia has historically been hit by tornadoes in the past — I think people heeded that warning," Bond said. "And so I think that helped tremendously."
A half-mile-wide tornado cut a path through southeastern Missouri's Carter County, flipping a couple of mobile homes near Grandin and leaving a half-dozen homes near Ellsinore damaged or destroyed, said Larry Sandarciero, the county's emergency management director. Many more homes lost windows and shingles, and acres of trees were flattened.
"After what they're going through in Joplin, we are blessed to say we have no reported injuries," Sandarciero said. "We're absolutely thrilled."
Multiple funnel clouds dropped from the sky over Poplar Bluff without reaching the ground, and several other tornado warnings were posted for southeastern Missouri and neighboring portions of Illinois and Arkansas into Wednesday evening.
The abundance of reports had meteorologists sending out warnings at a frenzied pace.
"Everybody's working as fast and furious as possible," said Beverly Poole, chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Paducah, Ky., office, which covers southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. "This is just a wild ride."
Poole said she saw it as especially significant that in many cases, there were reports of debris falling from the sky as far as 10 miles away from the actual centers of the storms, demonstrating "just how severe it is."
"It's just that that debris is being taken into very high levels and being spit right out," she said.