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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Was Cherokee Street Hit by a Tornado?

Posted By and on Wed, Apr 29, 2020 at 4:07 PM

click to enlarge Debris from a roof landed against a car on Indiana Avenue during last night's storm. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • Debris from a roof landed against a car on Indiana Avenue during last night's storm.

About 8 p.m. on Tuesday, St. Louis Alderman Dan Guenther was at a friend's place off of Cherokee Street celebrating one of the new events of our current lives — a social distancing birthday party — when an powerful wind blasted through the neighborhood.

"We heard the roar, and then the shingles started coming off the garage," says Guenther, who represents the Ninth Ward.

Power lines sparked, and a transformer blew, Guenther says. Through the neighborhood, winds ripped roofs off, threw debris into the streets and snapped limbs off trees. No one was injured, but Guenther says twelve houses lost roofs during the sudden storm. He later watched a video showing what appeared to be the characteristic swirl of a tornado.

"It pretty much went straight down Cherokee from Nebraska to Broadway," Guenther says.

So far, the National Weather Service has not confirmed it was a tornado. A staffer told the Riverfront Times it seemed more like a strong "straight-line" wind: "That's what it looked like on radar as well." Manpower at the National Weather Service is restricted because of COVID-19, so the service isn't likely to do an inspection.

Whatever it was, the damage kept crews from the city and Ameren busy through the night, clearing away debris and restoring power. Roughly 600 houses lost electricity.

"It was a very good response by the city to get the lights back on and stop signs back up," Guenther says.

By Wednesday afternoon, most of the trees and piles of tar paper from roofs had been cleared from the roads, and life was returning to normal pandemic routines.

click to enlarge A roof was down on the sidewalk in front of a Utah Street house. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • A roof was down on the sidewalk in front of a Utah Street house.

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