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Severe Weather Coverage [May 25]

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UPDATED – 5/26 7:30am

Area Damage Recap:
Last night’s line of storms passed through the region leaving little damage. High winds pushed down some trees across roads and knocked out power in parts of Paducah affecting some 1,500 customers for a few hours.

Several highways through McCracken, Marshall, Calloway and Graves Counties were closed for a few hours overnight as crews repaired downed power lines and removed fallen debris.

It’s much the same down in Paris, Tennessee where fallen trees damaged a handful of homes on Hwy 77, White Street and on the city’s west side along West Wood Street and Forrest Heights Drive. About 2,500 residents were without power for some time for overnight, but many homes’ connections have been restored. Henry County Emergency Management Director Ronald Watkins estimates some 20-30 county homes suffered minor damage.

In Massac County, Illinois a tornado is believed to have caused damage to a farm.

McCracken County Emergency Management Meteorologist Beau Dodson says over 75 tornadoes reportedly struck southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and western Tennessee. The National Weather Service is sending out survey teams today. Dodson says damage was mostly confined to rural instances, leaving cities and larger towns spared from the most intense damage.

UPDATED – 8:30pm

WeatherObservatory.com

– Power outage in parts of Murray. Storm passing through with large hail at 8:45 in Murray.

– Power outages have been reported in areas of Fulton and Fulton County.

A long system of storms is moving northeast in two main lines. A tornado warning is in effect for most of the listening area. One portion of the storm system is moving into southern Illinois and western Kentucky, headed toward Olmsted, Metropolis and Paducah. Wind gusts of between 60 and 80 miles per hour are being reported in McCracken County, with some reports of funnel clouds. The destructive storms are moving south toward Riedland and into Graves County.

The storm has reached Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, and Hickman counties, and is headed east toward Graves County. Affected areas also include Lake, Obion and Henry counties in west Tennessee.

Power losses are reported in certain areas of the region, including portions of Massac County, Illinois.

Heavy rains will make a tornado difficult to spot. Destructive straight-line winds are also possible with this storm, as well as hen egg-sized hail.

From earlier reports:

The National Weather Service in Paducah predicts a high risk of severe storms today and tonight.

Meteorologist Dan Spath predicts storms may become severe over Missouri in the early to mid-afternoon, moving into western Kentucky. More severe storms will develop with the system as it moves over western Kentucky, southern Illinois, and northwest Tennessee. Spath urges people to watch for second and possibly third storms to pass over. He says not to abandon shelter just because one storm has passed.

Spath says, “With this storm, there’s a very good chance of strong tornadoes. That’s an EF2 or greater.” Forecasters predict the same kind of damage seen in Oklahoma and Kansas this week, including a threat of personal injury.

Calloway County Emergency Management Director Bill Call says the best place to be in a tornado is a basement or other underground structure. If those aren’t available, find an interior wall away from glass. Call says people should leave mobile homes ahead of a tornado.

If you’re out driving, Call says it’s hard to outrun a tornado. “If you’re in a city street where you’ve got cross streets, go at right angles to the approach to try to escape it best you can,” Call says. “Weather Service advises not to hide under overpasses. Cause you actually get a funneling effect of wind in an overpass that makes the velocity higher. Sheltering in a ditch is sometimes recommended or get off and find a substantial structure.”

Tornado specific safety tips can be found at www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/tornadoes.html.

“We’re probably going to have gusts out of the frontal system,” Forecaster Jim Packett says. “Probably gusting upwards of 25-30mph maybe even slightly more than that. But it’s going to be relatively gusty from the south. But as with any thunderstorm, you got a potential of +60mph as well as a hail threat.”

Closures & Cancellations

– Murray State University’s campus closes at 3:30 p.m.
– McCracken County Public Schools dismisses early today due to inclement weather. High school and middle schools will dismiss at 1:30, elementary schools will dismiss at 2:15.
– Several area businesses have closed early in McCracken County and elsewhere. It’s likely more will close, and many regional events scheduled for tonight will be canceled.
– Murray High School has cancelled graduation scheduled for tonight due to weather. The ceremony may be rescheduled for tomorrow.

What Should You Do?
Residents should limit travel, watch for warnings from local media and weather radios, and make sure weather safety plans are in place. Tune into WKMS online here.

A message from Brig. Gen. John W. Heltzel, director of Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM).

“Although the state and local governments are expected to assist the public during times of emergencies and disasters, preparedness starts at home. In the event of large scale disasters the government may be unable to respond immediately.

“Be prepared! You should have at least a three day supply of food and water for each member of your family, along with essentials such as: medicines, flash lights, radio, extra batteries, matches, candles, first aid supplies, etc.

“Have a plan and practice it. Share your plan with relatives, friends and someone you know living in another state.”

Be Aware:

  • Know in advance your weather forecasts
  • Stay tuned to your local broadcasting stations
  • Discuss conditions with family members and know their location during times of known potentially threatening conditions.


Be Prepared:

  • Discuss your plan with family members and neighbors
  • Review your plan periodically for necessary updates
  • Refresh you emergency kit(s) periodically
  • Drill: practice your plan with household members

Have a Plan:

  • Utilities: Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn them back on)
  • Shelter: Identify safe locations within your residence
  • Contacts: Written contact information should include; relatives, neighbors, utility companies, employers (employees) and local emergency contact telephone numbers
  • Evacuate: Predetermine evacuation routes.  Identify where you could go if told to evacuate Choose several places:  a friend or relative’s home in another town, a motel, or a shelter
  • Children: Make back up plans for children in case you (or they) can’t get home in an emergency
  • Vehicles: Maintain a half tank of fuel in vehicles.  Move vehicles from under trees during possible wind events.  Keep an “Emergency Go Kit” in the vehicle.
  • Medications: prepare a list of all prescription drugs

Share your plan with others. It is suggested to include sharing it with contacts in another region or even another state.     


Make a Kit:

  • First aid kit and essential medications (to include prescription meds)
  • Canned food and can opener
  • At least three gallons of water per person
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
  • Waterproof matches, candles
  • Local phone book
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members
  • Extra set of car keys

Power Outages
The Kentucky Public Service Commission warns people who lose power in tonight’s storms to only run generators well-ventilated areas and to not use any kind of open flame cooking indoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t connect the generator to an extension cable or to the indoor wiring of your home. If you do lose power, report it to your utility company as soon as possible. All residents should avoid downed power lines.

Become a Weather Spotter
Forecasters and local emergency management officials will be monitoring eSpotter and Twitter. eSpotter is a system to facilitate the submission of spotter reports online. 

Weather Links:
WeatherObservatory.com
National Weather Service Paducah 

Road Condition Links:
Kentucky: http://511.ky.gov/kyhb/main.jsf or call 511
Kentucky Transportation on FacebookDistrict 1District 2.
Illinois: http://wrc.gettingaroundillinois.com/pages/wrc.htm
Tennessee: http://ww2.tdot.state.tn.us/tsw/smartmap.htm

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Written by Chris Taylor

May 25, 2011 at 7:39 am

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