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                   Monday, February 28, 2011 - 1:32AM CST

Sunday 2/27 St. Louis severe thunderstorm/tornado event

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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VIDEO: February 27, 2011 St. Louis severe storms, lightning, tornado sirens, power flashes

Short-term models were advertising strong supercells initiating in an excellent environment in the general vicinity of the Missouri Bootheel/western Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, so I decided to make it a chase. I ended up in Cape Girardeau after noon, but decided to hold tight and not waste gas going farther until the picture became clearer. Winds were not backing in the warm sector, and no obvious foci for convection could be pulled out of the mess of cloud cover, drizzle and rain showers to the south. After a long wait, I finally decided that there were no signs of these storms firing, and headed home.

I was home for only a short time before heading into downtown to shoot a strong bow echo racing eastward directly at the city just before midnight. This bow echo produced damage in parts of the city, and 'bookend' tornadoes may have been responsible for heavier damage in at least two locations in the metro.

Lightning over downtown St. Louis as a significant 'bow echo' line of thunderstorms approaches:

There was no shelf cloud associated with the gust front of these storms, just a sudden fog all the way to the ground that advanced ahead of the initial push of winds. Tornado sirens were activated in the city and in surrounding neighborhoods, along with a spoken warning over loudspeakers in the city (something I've never heard before) - video/audio of this is linked above. When the high winds from the storms hit, power flashes lit up downtown:

The line of storms rapidly pulled away, and were very distant by the time I got back home. I set up for lightning photography for a few minutes.

A decent outing for February, and a good chase to start the 2011 storm season!

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