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In case you missed it: Deadly tornadoes ravage central US; Runaway barges sink after crashing into dam

By Mark Puleo, AccuWeather staff writer
By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
May 27, 2019, 5:03:47 AM EDT


Intense flooding and violent tornadoes left a path of destruction across the southern Plains, claiming multiple lives in Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa.

The focus of the tornado outbreak was on Jefferson City, Missouri, which took a direct hit from a massive tornado on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Missouri Governor Mike Parsons confirmed power outages and damage dealt to state buildings. Earlier in the week, he had previously declared a state of emergency in response to the flood threats and severe weather.

One of the fatalities was a result of drowning when a driver attempted to cross a flooded roadway in Perkins, Oklahoma, emergency management officials said. Two more bodies were found in a submerged vehicle near the Mississippi River in Missouri.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Iesha McClain looks through her destroyed home Thursday, May 23, 2019 after a tornado tore though Jefferson City, Mo. late Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

This aerial image shows severe storm damage in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado hit overnight.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Carey Riley looks over damaged cars at a Toyota dealership he owns with his two brothers Thursday, May 23, 2019 after a tornado tore though Jefferson City, Mo. late Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A worker walks past tornado-damaged Toyotas at a dealership in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado tore though late Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In this aerial photograph, the Missouri Capitol is seen Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Jefferson City, Mo. Material covering part of the exterior of the building as it undergoes a renovation was damaged during a strong storm overnight.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

This aerial image shows severe storm damage in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado hit overnight.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Severe storm damage is seen in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado hit overnight.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

A tornado tore apart buildings in Missouri's capital city as part of an overnight outbreak of severe weather across the state.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Severe storm damage is seen in an aerial photo in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado hit overnight.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Tavaris McClain, left, and Tyree Thompson clear debris to free McClain's mother's car outside her destroyed home Thursday, May 23, 2019 after a tornado tore though Jefferson City, Mo. late Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Jessica Rodgers and a neighbor, Ray Arellana, carry a stroller carrying Rodgers' sister Sophia Rodgers over downed power lines in Jefferson City, Missouri, Thursday, May 23, 2019.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A woman surveys damage Thursday, May 23, 2019 after a tornado tore though Jefferson City, Mo. late Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

(DroneBase via AP)

This aerial image shows severe storm damage in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado hit overnight.

(Chris Higgins via AP)

This still image taken from video provided by Chris Higgins shows a tornado in Carl Junction, Missouri, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. The tornado caused damage in the town about 4 miles (6.44 kilometers) north of the Joplin Airport.

(Twitter photo/ Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin)

"Those winds were strong. But we are stronger!" Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said in a tweet on Thursday night.

(Twitter photo/ Missouri Gov. Mike Parson)

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson traveled to Carl Junction on Thursday, where dozens of homes were damaged from the storm. Parson met with some of the local residents in the Briarbrook subdivision to witness the destruction.

(AP Photo/David Lieb)

A car is trapped under the fallen metal roof of the Break Time gas station and convenience store in tornado-hit Jefferson City, Missouri, Thursday, May 23, 2019.

(AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

The sign for the Hidden Oaks apartment complex in Jefferson City, Missouri, stands bent Thursday, May 23, 2019, from a tornado in front of a tree that was ripped apart.

(Shayla Brooks via AP)

This still image taken from video provided by Shayla Brooks shows a tornado on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Carl Junction, Missouri.

(AP Photo/Stechshultsy)

This image posted on the Twitter account of Stechshultsy shows tornado-hit Jefferson City, Missouri, on Thursday, May 23, 2019. The NWS confirmed a large destructive tornado caused heavy damage.

(AP Photo/David Lieb)

A destroyed sign for a car wash is seen in tornado-hit Jefferson City, Missouri, Thursday, May 23, 2019, with a heavily damaged gas station in the background.

(Twitter photo/@MoPublicSafety)

This images shows the damaged Missouri Division of Employment Security Office in Jefferson City.

(Twitter photo/@MoPublicSafety)

Debris is scattered across Jackson and Dunklin Streets in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Thursday, May 23. Public safety officials are urging residents to allow crews room to clean up the tornado's aftermath.

(AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

Plastic chairs lie in the road and metal from a damaged gas station roof is twisted around a downed power line in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a large tornado ripped through the state's capital.

(Twitter photo/@MoPublicSafety)

The Missouri Department of Public Safety tweeted out images of extensive damage in Jefferson City, the state capital, including signs ripped from their posts along Ellis Boulevard near Highway 54.

(Twitter photo/@MoPublicSafety)

The Missouri Department of Public Safety tweeted images of extensive damage in Jefferson City, including downed power lines along Ellis Boulevard near Highway 54.

(Twitter photo/@MSHPTrooperF)

This image from the Missouri State Highway Patrol shows downed trees and power lines after a tornado struck Jefferson City, Missouri, Wednesday night.

(AP Photo/David Lieb)

A wall collapsed in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Thursday May 23, 2019 after a violent tornado struck the area.

(Twitter photo/@MSHPTrooperF)

This is one of several vehicles damaged on or near WB BUS 54 near Eldon, Missouri, on Wednesday evening.

(Twitter/@FirstLadyTeresa)

The tornado that tore through Missouri late Wednesday night destroyed trees and homes.

(Twitter/@FirstLadyTeresa)

The tornado that hit Missouri Wednesday night tore through Eldon, Missouri, downing power lines, snapping trees and destroying houses.

(Twitter/@FirstLadyTeresa)

The roof of this building was torn from it during the tornado that hit Missouri on Wednesday night.

(Twitter/@FirstLadyTeresa)

Residents of Eldon, Missouri clean up the damage left by the tornado that hit on Wednesday night.

Twitter/Master Sergeant Casey Utterback

The tornado that struck Jefferson City on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, tracked close to the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Law Enforcement Academy.

(Twitter/@MSHPTrooperGHQ)

The tornado that struck Jefferson City, Missouri on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, tore off the roof of this home and caused other major structural damage.

(Twitter/@MSHPTrooperGHQ)

Trees and power lines were torn from the ground and downed during the tornado that hit Jefferson City on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@MSHPTrooperGHQ)

These trees were uprooted and snapped in Jefferson City, Missouri by the tornado that hit late Wednesday night on May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@MSHPTrooperGHQ)

The tornado that hit Jefferson City on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, not only downed power lines, but flipped cars, as seen in the background of this photo.

Twitter/@MSHPTrooperC

The tornado that struck Jefferson City on Wednesday, May 22 launched this piece of metal into the side of a building.

(Twitter/@MSHPTrooperC)

Parts of Jefferson City, Missouri lie in pieces after the devastating tornado that struck on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@MSHPTrooperC)

An battered semi lies on its side after the tornado that hit Jefferson City, Missouri on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@MSHPTrooperC)

A metal sheet is wrapped around a storm-battered car after the tornado that hit Jefferson City, Missouri on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@MissouriOA)

The tornado that hit Jefferson City, Missouri on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, didn't spare the Employment Security Building.

(Twitter/@ChristiesPics)

The flooding occurring at Harry S Truman Dam grew worse after the storm blew through on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.


According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC), there were more than 120 tornado reports from Monday to Thursday. This does not mean that exactly 120 tornadoes occurred, as some of the reports can come from multiple people for the same tornado.

In Golden City, Missouri, three residents were killed Wednesday after a tornadic thunderstorm tracked from Ottawa County to Golden City. The roof of a fertilizer plant was also ripped off during the storm, causing an evacuation within a 1-mile radius due to the threat of a chemical leak.

In total, nine people were killed as a result of the severe weather and flooding this past week in the Central states.

The SPC issued a high risk for severe weather across portions of Oklahoma and Texas on Monday, the first time a high risk area has been issued by the agency since May 2017. The severe outbreak brought the highest tornado risk since April 14, 2012.

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On Thursday, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. as crews continue to assess the damage. According to poweroutage.us, the deadly storms left over 21,000 Missouri residents without electricity on Wednesday night.

As a result of the heavy rain, at least four levees were overwhelmed across Missouri. According to the Twitter account @MissouriLevees, 51 of the state’s 64 levees are forecast to overtop by the end of the week.

“Emergency personnel are continuing to contact displaced residents in the affected area,” officials said in a statement. “Citizens are urged to stay away from the impacted area to allow emergency personnel to access.”


Flooding was a big concern for some communities in Oklahoma in the wake of the tornadoes as several communities were forced to evacuate. The Arkansas River near Tulsa reached its highest level since 1986 on Wednesday when it reached moderate flood stage.

The town of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, was one of the communities that ordered evacuations earlier this week due to the floodwaters. Town officials said it remained closed on Thursday due to rising waters.

The "life-threatening situation was compounded by the fact that two barges, carrying about 1,500 tons of non-toxic fertilizer, broke loose and began floating uncontrollably down the swollen river and towards the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam.

On Thursday, the two barges hit the dam and sunk immediately, leaving some damage but not causing a catastrophic dam failure as some had feared.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said damage from the barges was "minimal."

"Tulsa District engineers were immediately deployed to the structure to inspect the integrity of the dam. Initial observations are that the structural damage is minimal," officials with the corps said. "We found no integrity issues that make us concerned that it will not perform as designed.

The officials added that the submerged barge debris was obstructing three flood gates on the dam from being able to fully close.

runaway barges

This still image from video provided by KFOR-TV shows two unmanned barges that broke loose on the swollen Arkansas River in Oklahoma, head down stream hours earlier and crashing into a dam and sinking Thursday, not causing the structure to fail, which officials feared might happen.


Thousands of miles away in the Atlantic, threats of severe weather were avoided when Subtropical Storm Andrea weakened to an extratropical storm. Andrea became the first named storm of the 2019 Atlantic season on Monday.

While Andrea weakened within 24 hours of naming, AccuWeather forecasters continue to predict for 12 to 14 tropical cyclones to occur this season. Of those 14, two to four are forecast to become major hurricanes.

andrea satellite 5/20/2019

Subtropical Storm Andrea as seen by NOAA satellites on May 20, 2019. (Photo/NOAA)


The same storms responsible for the rounds of severe storms also produced some wintry conditions across the country.

Thirteen states, mainly in the western U.S., received measurable snowfall early this week. While some social media users expressed excitement with this May snowfall, many more expressed disappointment with snow only several days before Memorial Day weekend.

The heavy, late-season snowfall caused travel disturbances and a major pileup in the Denver area. Several surrounding regions in Colorado accumulated more than a foot of snow by Tuesday morning. Black Forest was clobbered by 20 inches, and Peyton was buried by 18 inches.

Colorado was not the only state to experience considerable snowfall early this week. Several locations in South Dakota were inundated with over a foot of snow, and in one case over 2 feet of snow, into Wednesday. For example, a whopping 25 inches buried Pactola Reservoir by Wednesday morning.

In Canada, thousands of Alberta residents have been forced to leave their homes as a result of 30 active wildfires raging through the province. High Level, the town most directly impacted by the blazes, performed a controlled burn on Wednesday afternoon to slow the spread of the fires.

alberta wildfire

A wildfire burns outside the town of High Level, Alberta, Canada. (Photo/Alberta Wildfire)


High Level Fire Chief Rodney Schmidt added that favorable conditions, such as light winds, have assisted firefighters and helped crews protect electrical poles in the town. The Chuckegg Creek Fire has covered nearly 400 miles of land near the town and is one of six fires that are out of control.

Thanks to the favorable winds and assistance from firefighters across the country, no homes have been damaged by the Chuckegg Creek Fire. Although the blaze has knocked out power in the area, the region was able to organize a widespread evacuation, as over 5,000 Albertans traveled south away from the blazes.

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