Public safety officials say while overnight showers led to localized flooding through the day on Thursday, another round of afternoon storms bring with them an increased risk of severe weather.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for Pettis County until 9 p.m. Thursday, with large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes possible. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are in and close to the watch area.
Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Director Dave Clippert cautioned area residents Thursday ”today is the day that you really need to pay attention to the weather, especially this afternoon.”
Thunderstorms were expected to begin reforming over the area between noon and 1 p.m., though Clippert advised, forecasters are still trying to nail down the exact path of a storm system expected to stretch across a broad swath of the Midwest.
“Our tornado threat has gone up considerably from what it was the last couple of days. We are looking at a 15 percent tornado risk,” Clippert said. “I know some folks might see that and think that doesn’t seem high, but on a normal, average day the risk is zero - so 15 percent is a significant increase. We are really playing close attention. All Pettis County storm shelters are open.”
Clippert added that the “hail risk is significant, potentially baseball size hail.”
The storms will also bring additional rainfall to already flooded low water crossings and waterways meaning motorists should take extra caution during their evening commute.
Capt. Dave Keller with the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office said as of 2 p.m. state Route HH and state Route O were still closed due to flooding, and that many smaller gravel roads were covered with water. He said most major highways were now clear, but that conditions could change as the rain continues throughout the day.
“People shouldn’t drive through the water, you can’t see the bottom of the road so you don’t know where it is,” Keller said. “It’s best to avoid those roads covered in water.”
So far no injuries have been reported, and Keller said he knew of only one incident this morning where Missouri State Highway Patrol and Sedalia Fire Department officials helped a man whose vehicle had been swept off the road due to high flood waters. He said he was not aware of any reported property damage, but that several farms had fields under water that would have to be assessed once the water subsided.
The Pettis County Highway Department reported Thursday afternoon that Dresden Road was closed at Flat Creek bridge because it is severely flooded.
All storm shelters in Pettis County are now open and available for use.
The Democrat will update this story as it develops.