Heavy rains began lashing the metro-east at midafternoon Tuesday, even as the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the St. Louis region until 7 p.m.
At 2:30 p.m., heavy rains struck downtown Belleville as the front edge of the storms moved through the area, with skies so dark that streetlights turned on.
There were scattered reports of power outages and power lines down across the region.
At Scott Air Force Base, security forces closed the Cardinal Creek Gate via South Drive due to flooding in the area. The base asked drivers to adjust routes accordingly.
The city of O’Fallon activated its emergency sirens due to the thunderstorm warning, indicating 60-plus mph winds.
Some schools were delaying bus service and holding students at schools until the storm passes. Edwardsville District 7 alerted parents that middle school students will be held at Lincoln and Liberty schools until the weather clears, and elementary students will likewise be held later with possible departure at 3:50 p.m. Students who are picked up by parents will be released to them on time, but students who walk home will be held with the bus students, according to the alert. Collinsville Unit 10 has also alerted parents that buses may be delayed.
Mascoutah School District bussed some students home, but Superintendent Craig Fiegel said some students will be held at schools in the district until the storm passes.
The afternoon warning from the weather service was the second of the day; early in the morning, meteorologists issued a bulletin warning of hazardous weather.
AccuWeather reported Tuesday afternoon that severe thunderstorms were quickly developing across the south-central U.S. with storms threatening lives and property from Texas to Nebraska.
The area of highest risk spannned across much of central Oklahoma and central Kansas, including Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Wichita and Salina, Kansas; and Hastings, Nebraska.
“All modes of severe weather are likely, including tornadoes, hail and damaging winds,” according to AccuWeather assistant director of storm warning services Andrew Gagnon.
AccuWeather prediced some of the strongest tornadoes during the afternoon and evening could be long-lived, tracking on the ground for an extended period of time before the storm weakens.
Storms were expected to last well into Tuesday night, eventually shifting into Missouri and Arkansas.
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