(photo by Tim Jaynes)
SIKESTON - The handful of residents who were actually able to sleep through the early morning wind storm that blew through the area woke up to no power, trees that had been snapped in two and other wind damage.
The powerful wind, what some are referring to as part of a tornado, brought down trees of all sizes, from the smallest to the very large. Ornamental trees were laying on their sides in a row along Malone Avenue and huge trees that have been in yards for years were brought down as if they were light as a feather.
According to the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., Cape Girardeau recorded northwest winds at 30 miles per hour with gusts near 38 miles per hour at approximately 3:30 a.m. today when the storm blew through. The Weather Services was unable to get the information from Poplar Bluff as apparently their sensors were not operational at the time.
No tornadoes were reported for Southeast Missouri by weather spotters; just severe thunderstorms. Sikeston's rainfall was recorded at .30 inch today at the Sikeston Power Station.
Dennis Sleighter with the National Weather Service at Paducah suggested part of the reason so many trees were uprooted by the storm could be more than just the high winds. Since the ground is saturated from so much rain, it may not take as much wind to bring trees down as it would if the ground were dry. The root systems are probably very saturated and were in a weakened condition, he explained and had the ground not been so wet, they would not have uprooted.
East Prairie residents saw much of the same as those in Sikeston, reporting wind damage, downed power lines and trees that had been broken.
Bloomfied was hit hard, as well, with trees down throughout town. "There are tree tops and trees down everywhere over here," reported Jerod Dockins, customer service manager of SEMO Electric Co-op, who was calling from Bloomfield.
"I think we had a tornado over here, you can see a path in the tree tops where it went through," he said. "A house even burned, I guess lightening hit it. The structure looks OK but the inside is totally gutted, it's all just black."
Parts of Mississippi County sustained damage as well. The Mississippi County Sheriff's Department received report that a Dogwood resident's shed had blown away, trees were blown down and a barn had blown away on Highway C, off Highway B. One official reported that he was told as of 3:45 a.m. there was 68 mile per hour wind.
Dockins said workers out are restoring power to residents, something he said will probably take all day.
Ed Throop, director of Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities, reported crews were out as early as 3:20 a.m. today, trying to restore electricity to residents. "There was a time when pretty much the whole town was without power," he said, noting that businesses such as Good Humor-Breyers, Market Place and Stans were powerless for at least an hour.
Throop said the power outage could be attributed to trees and falling limbs that snapped power lines. He added there were two direct lightening hits into substations.
"There's nothing centrally located, although what I'd call the southeast area of town received lots and lots of damage," Throop said.
A BMU employee working at Olive Street said although although all employees were working it would take all day to clean up what the storm did in less than an hour. "We will be working all day, maybe longer to get it cleaned up. It could have been a whole lot worse though."
But not everyone faced the wrath of Mother Nature. As of press time both Mississippi County and Scott County reported no major problems. The New Madrid County Sheriff's Department said there were some reports of limbs down but no problems as a result of the early morning storm.