'Violent tornado' hits Jefferson City after it left three people dead and several injured in Missouri
The National Weather Service warned residents living in the area of a 'violent tornado' and urged them to seek out shelter immediately.
A round of severe storms swept across Missouri on Wednesday, May 22, killing at least three people and causing extensive damage. As Missouri was picking up the pieces, a tornado hit its capital, Jefferson City, in the center of the state a little before midnight, according to officials. The National Weather Service warned residents living in the area of a "violent tornado" and urged them to seek out shelter immediately.
NBC News reported that the NWS also issued a tornado emergency for the Jefferson City area at 11:43 p.m. Jim Sieveking, science and operations officer for the weather service’s St. Louis office, said that the tornado hit shortly after that.
He said: "It was a tornado, we saw the debris on the radar. From all accounts, it went right through the middle of Jefferson City." Sieveking also said that the weather service had received multiple reports of injuries and people who were trapped. Mayor Carrie Tergin told the outlet that some areas in and around the city have suffered severe damage and that officials were assessing the situation.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety tweeted that the state capital of Jefferson City had "extensive damage along Ellis Boulevard near Highway 54," which included downed power lines. It also said that the first-responders were going door-to-door to assess the situation. She told NBC News in a phone interview: "The best word to describe the damage is 'devastating'."
The Jefferson City Fire Department said on Facebook that all of the firefighters were called in to assist in the situation. The department wrote: "Please Pray for our Citizens". NBC affiliate KOMU of Columbia reported that city officials have also requested the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It reported that Missouri Task Force 1 has also joined in the search and rescue efforts.
Department of Public Safety spokesperson Mike O'Connell said that the three deaths were confirmed after a suspected tornado tore through Golden City in Barton County earlier on Wednesday, May 22, night. Golden City is around 40 miles to the northeast of Joplin. He said that several injuries were also reported in Carl Junction, around 10 miles to the north of Joplin.
The damage to the area came eight years to the day on Wednesday when a large and destructive tornado devastated Joplin and killed 158 people in the process. Doug Cramer, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Springfield, said that even though the tornado was close to the city, "we do not believe there is any tornado damage in Joplin". He added that it was still unclear if the suspected tornado in Barton County was the same one as the one which was spotted to the north of Joplin.
He did say, however, "We do know it was associated with same storm". Cramer said: "Whether or not the tornado was on the ground the whole time we won’t know until we do a damage survey tomorrow."
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