On this day a year ago our team of meteorologists were forecasting a routine severe weather event fueled by summer heat and humidity.
Damaging winds, heavy rain, and lightning were the main concerns.
But those storms were the first dominoes to fall in a tragic sequence of events that led to the loss of 17 lives that day.
The way these storms arrived on Table Rock Lake was one of those dominoes. An unusual aspect of the storms was that the intense gust front surged well ahead of the storms with damaging winds blowing through with the sun still out, possibly catching some off guard.
These severe storms did fire up much earlier in the afternoon in parts of Kansas. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued shortly after 11 am.
Non-tornadic, damaging winds up to 74 mph blew through Springfield around 6 PM, warranting interrupting TV programming and sounding the outdoor sirens in Greene County . Many trees were snapped and uprooted, power lines torn down.
Ryan Zeller, a Trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Division advises you to stay weather aware. “Dark clouds rolling in, shifting winds, if the waves on the water pick up. Those are things that are going to lead you to believe that maybe there’s some weather coming in and I need to investigate further.”
Before you even get on your boat, make sure your emergency kit is packed with food, water, life vests, fire extinguisher, whistles to signal help, and laminated insurance and contact information.
Make a plan to use when warnings are issued but practice it on a blue-sky day. Don’t rely on one way to get warning information — have many ways — TV, NOAA weather radio, and radar apps are great tools.
“Sirens are really meant to be heard outdoors. As an outdoor warning siren, it’s possible you may not hear it in your home. It’s meant to warn people at those baseball games, on the lake, or at events like birthdays with tents that are going on” says Branden Surgnier, Greene County Office of Emergency Management.
Since this tragedy, our team has worked closely with the National Weather Service and Emergency Management to be more specific in warning text, making sure exact hazards and locations are listed. But remember its up to each individual to stay weather aware and know when to take action.