Storms leave thousands across St. Louis powerless as intense heat rolls in

Storms leave thousands across St. Louis powerless as intense heat rolls in

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UPDATED at 1 p.m Friday with latest power outage numbers

Thousands of people started their Fridays without power after strong storms swept across St. Louis, taking down power lines and tossing tree branches into roads while dumping heavy rain as the Thursday evening rush hour got started.

More than 26,000 Ameren customers in Illinois and nearly 19,000 in Missouri were still without power, as of 1 p.m. Friday.

About 15,000 of those Illinois customers are in St. Clair County. Of the Missouri outages, 18,000 were in St. Louis County. Most of the problems were due to downed power lines.

And the heat is on, with highs forecast near 100 on Friday and an excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service in effect for the area until 10 p.m. Saturday with afternoon heat index values expected to be 105-110 degrees — and likely  higher.

The weather service in Weldon Spring reported widespread wind damage across northern parts of the St. Louis region and much of western and southwestern Illinois. 

Anita Turman's home in Glasgow Village was cut in half by a tree in Thursday's storm. Turman had just left home with her son, 5, and daughter, 10, to get pizza. A neighbor called her on her cell phone to say a tree had fallen on her home, on Esteridge Road. She went back and had to wade through debris to get into the basement to free two dogs from kennels. The tree fell on all three bedrooms.

"I can see the clothes shoes floating in the basement, and I can see my son's bed hanging through the ceiling," she said. "The house is in half and gone on one side, and on the other it's just debris."

She has lived in the house for two years.

"We lost everything," she said. "Clothes, shoes, food. All of our memories are gone. We are homeless."

Much of the region was under a tornado warning or watch as the storm front moved south and east from northwest of St. Charles County on Thursday. In addition to strong winds, the storm brought heavy rain and, in places, hail. Just after 6 p.m., there was a report of funnel cloud spotted in Caseyville, the National Weather Service said.

There were no confirmed sightings of tornadoes, but a survey team of the National Weather Service will be heading out on Friday to inspect damage on the ground to determine if it was the work of a tornado or straight-line winds. The survey team will focus on the damaged marina area in Portage Des Sioux along the Mississippi River in St. Charles County, where a truck flipped over. Damage was reported at Liberty Harbor and My River Home Boat Harbour.

The survey team also plans to visit Spanish Lake, where larger trees snapped, and Granite City, said Kevin Deitsch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Several large trees were reported to be down in Wilson Park in Granite City.

Deitsch said the highest wind speed reported Thursday was 72 mph in the Hazelwood area.

 Check our live interactive radar

Tornado sirens sounded in St. Louis about 5:30 p.m. About 6:20 p.m., a large tree was blocking Riverview Drive, the St. Louis Fire Department reported. St. Louis County police officers received calls of downed trees in the Castle Point area. 

• Map: Regional power outages

In St. Charles County, officials reported "significant damage" to three marinas in Portage Des Sioux. 

"There's widespread damage in in the Portage area, with wires down and a lot of tree damage," St. Charles County Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Mary Enger said. "They're sending generators out there to assist with that."

The Weather Service recorded wind gusts of 59 miles per hour in the Orchard Farm are in St. Charles County at around 5:17 p.m. In Jersey County, trees were said to be blocking highways 111 and 16 about 5:45 p.m.  In Fairview Heights, the storm tore the roof off of an apartment building near Joseph and Orleans drives. Residents were being offered shelter at a nearby school.

The storm was followed by flash flood warnings.

The St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management said the North County Recreation Complex, at 2577 Redman Avenue, will open as a cooling shelter at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

• St. Louis weather truisms

• Find the latest forecast

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