Tornado Outbreak

Posted by Missouri Rev on Mar 18th, 2006

Perhaps like yours, our weather this past winter has been very interesting, to say the least. It all started last Thanksgiving with a small tornado that came past us about 5 miles to the west after doing some damage in a nearby town. The alert tone went off on our NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association) weather radio — a real good idea for anybody living in the tornado belt — indicating a tornado warning, take cover. In as much as I am not a fan of our behemoth central government I have to admit that this particular agency has done some good, as many lives have been spared through their advanced storm warning system.

The radio alert reported a tornado (a funnel cloud on the ground) west of us possibly heading our direction. We immediately went for the basement where I soon brought up Doppler radar on my computer, which showed a small storm cell some miles to the west of us. This peaked my curiosity and being an avid weather buff I took a quick look outdoors and discovered clear, starry skies above us with a slight breeze, but to the northwest, as the radar indicated, was a furious little ball of clouds and lightning zooming along to the Northeast. My daughter and I went outside to watch this amazing action. This was after dark on a late November evening, yet it was 70 degrees and beautifully humid, something more akin to April and May when the tornado season is normally active. What a show to behold! With the lightning flashing frequently you could see the tornado moving right along, yet way above and around this small storm you could see the stars. Thank the Lord there were no injuries and relatively minor damage.

From that time until last Sunday we have had a quiet, warm winter with a few short cold snaps and little snow. Until last Sunday I say, as Missouri’s worst tornado outbreak in recorded history unleashed upon us and it was awesome.

Who said, “Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God for a possession.” O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind! As the fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest, and frighten them with Your storm. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; yes, let them be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:12-18

It will be several months before a tally is made of all the tornados, which will likely be in the dozens. There were six deaths statewide and extensive damage, though not anything like the Tri-state tornado of March 18, 1925, which ripped through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana killing 695 people. An F5 tornado (the worst it can get), it tracked continuously on the ground for 219 miles and 3.5 hours averaging from ¾ to 3 miles wide, obliterating four communities and destroying over 15,000 homes in the process. Sunday’s outbreak was quite mild in comparison; none of the tornadoes appear to have been bigger than a F2, with the longest one tracking continuously on the ground for only about 19 miles. Yesterday, while traveling over into Carroll County to check out an Amish lumber mill, I saw extensive debris in many of the surrounding fields along the way – huge sheets of twisted sheet metal and pieces of lumber. (I’ll be reporting on this visit with the Amish later as I had a very interesting time with them and am scheduled to spend some more time with them in the next few weeks learning the ins and outs of “sawyering” Amish style.)

Sunday morning during the first storm wave (of three) we suffered here in Rayville a major hailstorm with golf ball size and larger stones. We were truly spared compared to many areas throughout the state that suffered extensive damage from baseball size and larger hail. I became a minor casualty when I went outside at the beginning of it to cover the only car we had that was dent free. We covered it with a tarp, blankets, and thick rugs to no avail. In the process a large hailstone zinged in and smacked an exposed wrist (I was well covered with a heavy coat and hat) causing it to immediately bruise and bleed, and this only 30 minutes before we were to start worship services. All things considered, we had much to pray and thank the Lord for.

Since the National Weather Service (NWS) had predicted the threat of tornadoes for most of the day, we spent the afternoon with some members of the church while two more waves of tornadic activity came through. Our antique church basement is a virtual “Fort Knox” with its many thick walls of concrete and, thus, makes a great place to retreat when the weather yogurt is about to hit the fan. We are blessed that one of the members of our church is an advanced HAM radio operator and seasoned storm spotter, which really is a plus here in Missouri. When the NWS announced during the second wave that we had a possible tornado coming our way I went outside with him to spot and report it, if possible, something I recommend doing very carefully and during the daylight . . . Doppler radar within the confines of a basement is the best place at night, in my opinion. Even during the day many tornados cannot be easily seen, especially if wrapped in rain or just starting where there is not a lot of debris or rain within it to make it manifest. Though a tornado did not appear, thank God, we did witness a huge, low hanging wall cloud that was rotating to beat the band as it boiled and roared directly over us. It was breathtaking! A short time later it spawned off a tornado in a county just northeast of us. We were spared again. Thank you Lord!

Now that we have finished winter with the largest spring type tornado outbreak in its history, we are entering spring with what will likely be the largest snowstorm of the season, which is predicted for this Sunday through Tuesday. Ah yes, the futility of men to try to predict the weather according their suppression of the truth (Rom. 1:18-21) that it is the Lord that directs the weather to His glory that His righteousness be revealed to the nations. Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed (Isa. 56:1). After all I have seen this winter, I wonder what’s in store for New Orleans after they dedicated the latest Marti Gra to God, that He would bless it!

2 Responses

  1. Jim Ketchum Says:


    I have to agree with you that one of these times, the LORD is going to allow that wall cloud to drop a tornado right on our heads while we’re outside “storm spotting.” The LORD has been gracious to spare our foolishness in such things thus far. Suffice to say, such activity is not recommended for the faint of heart. We do see His glory in the power of the storm.


  2. bob Says:

    Sounds exciting!

    Count me in the group of wise individuals that find themselves outside when the fury of the storm fully flexes its muscle!

    I’ve tried quite hard to have an opportunity to view a tornado, but thus far they have eluded me. My closes opportunity was foiled when the tornado followed a path through the open country in May when the fields were freshly plowed and dry. All I was able to see was flying dust!

    I’ll leave the theatre to others – for my preference for an evening is to watch the lightning flicker in the anvil of a distant 60,000′ tall cumulonimbus cloud.

    “The Lord has His way with the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are as the dust beneath His feet.”


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