I was awakened this morning at about three thirty a.m. by the screech of a tornado warning. Always nice to have a memorable event on Leap Day*. We were expecting a round of thunderstorms but the NWS showed only a slight risk of severe weather so unlike most storms I figured it was at least safe to take off my shoes. When I turned on the local weather I was a little unsure if it had been wise.
A line of super cell thunderstorms developed and spawned several tornadoes that damaged homes and businesses from southeast Missouri to Indiana. I live in Jackson County and we were advised to take shelter after a weather spotter confirmed a tornado on the ground. I watched and saw that despite our warning the storm was going to pass several miles south of us so I didn't rouse the rest and spent most of the pre dawn watching the storms move through the region.
You may recall that we weren't so lucky as my home was in the heart of what was called an "Inland Hurricane" with heavy downpours of rain coupled with straight line winds of over one hundred miles per hour. This time the storms tracked over several small and medium sized communities in Southern Illinois.
At this point the town of Harrisburg was hardest hit with three already confirmed deaths and a large part of its business district smashed to bits. There are currently about thirteen thousand homes without power and some areas are still impossible to reach due to trees and debris.
We here are all fine, nothing more than a downed limb or three. Still the shock is visible on the faces of the people who bore the brunt of this disastrous weather. I hope this isn't a preview of the coming Spring.
UPDATE: As of 11 a.m. central time the dead now number 5 and the injured over one hundred. A number of people are still missing.