Thousands still without power after Missouri storm

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Cleanup efforts continued Monday across eastern Missouri under clear skies, after strong storms that swept through the state one day earlier caused widespread power outages and scattered property damage.

Ameren Missouri reported a high of nearly 40,000 outages Sunday afternoon, mostly in the St. Louis area. By late Monday morning, 5,700 Ameren customers were still without power after wind gusts of up to 65 mph toppled trees and branches onto power lines.

In southeast Missouri, a Scott County mobile home and a seed store were destroyed, but no one was injured. In St. Charles County, the Heritage Primary School in Wentzville had significant damage to its roof, but classes went on as scheduled Monday. A lack of power forced a Catholic school and a city school in St. Louis to close.

St. Louis recorded a record high temperature of 80 degrees on Sunday, a 25-degree jump from the normal high for Nov. 17. Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico combined with a cold front that formed north of Missouri to create the late-fall storm system, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kramper.

“When you get that clash, when all those ingredients fall into place, when you get that clash of seasons, you have that possibility,” he said. “The atmosphere was busy yesterday.”

The cluster of storms that formed in eastern Missouri picked up strength as they headed east, with the death toll reaching six in Illinois as tornadoes touched down in a dozen states and stretched as far east as West Virginia, Pennsylvania and western New York.

Two of the deaths occurred in the southern Illinois community of New Minden, which is located off Interstate 64 about 50 miles east of St. Louis. An 80-year-old man and his 78-year-old sister were killed there by a tornado that hit their farmhouse. A third person died in Washington near Peoria, while three others perished in Massac County in the far southern part of the state.

In downtown St. Louis, the high winds toppled street lights, lamp posts and an empty building. A tractor-trailer hauling Anheuser-Busch beer overturned on a Mississippi River bridge connecting the city to the Metro East suburbs of Illinois.

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