Several people were injured and at least one person was killed after a number of apparent tornadoes struck across Kansas and southern Missouri overnight.It's early in the season for this kind of weather. Could be a rough Spring this year.
In Missouri, the cities of Branson, Lebanon and Buffalo were all hit by the line of possible tornadoes. In Branson, authorities say that an apparent tornado roared through the downtown area, heavily damaging a number of the city’s famous theaters along the Missouri Highway 76 strip.
Taney County Emergency Manager Chris Berndt says that some mobile homes in the county were completely destroyed. Berndt reports that at least 41 people were injured in the Branson area, along with reports of numerous large trees and power lines downed by the storm.
According to KSPR-TV, two shelters have been opened in Branson, primarily to house tourists whose hotels were damaged.
Missouri 76 has been closed from Missouri 376 (Shepherd of the Hills Expressway) to U.S. 65 while authorities assess the damage from the storm.
The tornado, which struck just after 1:00 a.m. damaged a number of theaters and hotels along the strip. Two hotels – The Blue Bayou Inn and the Hilton – suffered serious damage from the storm.
I saw a report on The Weather Channel this morning that showed a band bus belonging to a group that was performing in the area. The bus, with the band aboard, had been rolled across the parking lot resulting in significant damage to the bus, but fortunately not to the occupants.
It's fortunate that this occurred in February and not April or May when the tourist season really gets going in Branson. They'll have as many as 60,000 people each day on the theater strip in the middle of town at the height of the season.
I was watching some of this unfold last night thanks to the live streaming news from Springfield, MO. It was a nasty looking line of storms, dropping tornadoes in several areas. I went to bed before the line hit Branson. I've got some friends in the area - hope they're okay.