Thursday, April 11, 2013
Storms packing rain, snow and dangerous winds have raked the Midwest, spawning a possible tornado outside of St. Louis that prompted an emergency declaration from Missouri's governor.
To the north icy weather left thousands without power and prompted Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to call out the state National Guard to aid residents as the state braced for another storm system that threatened to dump several inches of wet snow Thursday.
The most violent weather was centered near the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood late Wednesday night. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported early Thursday that homes and vehicles were damaged in the area. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.
National Weather Service officials said crews would be out Thursday to assess whether a tornado had struck.
Residents in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood say the storm that did significant damage to their hometown was loud and frightening.
Hazelwood suffered some of the worst destruction after the storm struck the St. Louis metro region late Wednesday.
Pharmacy technicial A.J. Goewert says he saw "a wall of bright light" before the storm lifted products off shelves and tore holes in the roof of a Hazelwood pharmacy.
Gary Buneta told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/10VFca9 ) the storm threw from his dining room into a kitchen wall. It also blew off his home's roof and windows and downed trees in his yard.
And Ellen Knop says the storm destroyed her garage and left her front porch in the family room.
Ameren says about 24,000 people in Missouri and 3,000 in Illinois had no power as of 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
The utility says its crews worked throughout the night and extra crews are being called in to help.
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service says spotters reported seeing tornadoes but that won't be confirmed until crews survey the damage Thursday.
The worst damage was reported around Hazelwood but no serious injuries have been reported.
Several schools in the St. Louis area are closed Thursday because of damage from storms.
KMOX Radio reports that all Hazelwood schools were shut down after the storm that struck the community Wednesday night. Power outages also closed Cross Keys Middle School and Wedgewood Elementary in the neighboring Ferguson-Florissant School District.
In west St. Louis County, high winds took off portions of the roof at Shenandoah Elementary School in the Parkway School District, forcing it to close.
There is no word yet on when the schools will reopen.