BOLIVAR, Mo. — Storms in Bolivar on Thursday, May 28, are confirmed by the National Weather Service to be two separate EF1 tornados.
When the skies turned dark, people braced for a thunderstorm.
“Obviously the bad part of this storm was, in talking with the weather service this morning, it really was two storms and they just merged right over us,” said Brent Watkins, the Bolivar emergency management director.
The Service said the two tornados saw peak winds of 95 mph and reached max width of 50 yards. One tornado traveled .51 of a mile while the other traveled 1.2 miles.
“If anybody has spent any time in the Ozarks as far as severe weather, they know these storms do develop and come during springtime,” said Steve Runnells, with the National Weather Service. “You have got to be ready for them, know where to go, and then when the weather service issues a warning, take shelter.”
One tornado happened around 11:51 a.m. and uprooted trees, damaged travel trailers, destroyed a workshop building, and was witnessed by multiple.
National Weather Service said the other tornado happened on Southeast Bolivar around 12:08 p.m., uprooted trees, and caused heavy damage to a large hay barn.
There was no tornado warning and no sirens in Bolivar, catching the residents off guard. A warning for a severe thunderstorm did go out around 11:45 a.m., but this turned out to be more than severe thunderstorm.
“I had kids at the babysitter and they were about 1,000 feet from where it hit,” said Watkins. “So, I understand as a dad the importance of being notified.”
It’s up to the Weather Service to issue warnings and up to counties and towns to sound the alarm, but this twister was short lived.
“As we all know, that storm developed very quickly and, by our records, by 11:58, this tornado had already been down and back up,” said Watkins.
The National Weather Service said this story is a prime example of why we can’t depend solely on sirens. Like with Bolivar, sometimes they can’t sound them in time, other times you might not hear them.
The neat thing today, technology allows everyone to get information directly from the National Weather Service from the cellphones in your pockets,” said Runnells.
No injuries or deaths were reported from the incident.