Storm stories: Trampoline rises in the air, spins like a top, slams into Dupo house

News-DemocratJune 23, 2013 

— It might have been a microburst, but you'd have a hard time convincing the residents of Dupo after the weekend's storms.

Tom Frawley was relaxing Saturday in his home on Audry Street when the storm suddenly rolled in. He went to look out a window as the skies grew dark.

"The next thing I know, everything was moving around," he said.

Frawley watched as his neighbor's trampoline rose straight up in the air and began spinning like a top. It flew against the side of Frawley's house, damaging the siding about 15 feet from the ground.

Then the trampoline landed in Frawley's front-yard tree. What was left of it ended up in a trash barrel on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Frawley's own trampoline likewise went flying, but it was caught in a tree in his back yard. "If it wasn't for that tree, it would have landed on (neighbor Chris Koppenhofer's) car," he said.

Koppenhofer was watching the storm as well -- he is a trained weather spotter licensed by the National Weather Service. He saw wind and rain flying horizontally between two houses in the next block, and suddenly begin a left-to-right wind rotation, he said.

But that was just before lightning struck the yard in front of Koppenhofer's house. His wife, Mary Koppenhofer, was standing with her hand on a metal window frame and her foot on a metal air grate, and she could feel the pulse in tingling on her hand and foot when the lighting struck, Koppenhofer said.

The lightning strike fried the Koppenhofers' house systems, shorting out their cable, internet and electrical power. "It tripped all the breakers except two," Koppenhofer said.

A day later, most services had been restored to the Koppenhofers' home -- except the air conditioner and furnace, which were badly burned out, Koppenhofer said.

"The National Weather Service may call it a microburst, but the damage sure doesn't say that," Koppenhofer said.

Two blocks away, fences and garage doors sustained damage while tree limbs were torn off and a shed was demolished in a nearby field. The garage door of a house under construction on Edwin Drive was nearly ripped off the house.

But by Sunday afternoon, most of Dupo was back to normal, just in time for another major storm system to roll in. The National Weather Service reported that Sunday evening's storms poured 3.82 inches of rain on the metro-east in less than four hours, with flash flood warnings in several communities.

Water covered roads from State Park to Scott Air Force Base, where Illinois 161 was reportedly up to a foot deep in floodwater.

Hail was reported in Marissa, with downed trees, winds gusting up to 50 mph and fender-bender car accidents as the rain came down. Showers were predicted to taper off by midnight, according to the National Weather Service.

Nearly 200 homes in Glen Carbon began the day Sunday without power, with more outages scattered through the area. Later in the day, Glen Carbon regained its service while many more lost power. Approximately 10,097 customers were without power in St. Clair County by 9:30 p.m., and another 1,726 in Madison County, according to Ameren Illinois.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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