No warning issued before recent tornados, location of radar systems a factor

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MOBERLY - Some residents of Miller County are upset they didn't get any tornado warning - or any kind of storm warning at all -  before an EF-1 tornado hit Brumley. Another tornado touched down in Randolph County, which was under severe thunderstorm warning, but there was no tornado warning either. 

The emergency management director for Randolph County said a key reason no sirens sounded is because the area is a long way from the National Weather Service radar.

Jim Charrier said, "We have a challenge in mid-Missouri because we are so far away from Pleasant Hill over in Kansas City and from St. Louis."

He said radar from both of those locations intersect mid-Missouri at 11,000 feet.

"So what happens is all that activity below that level they can't see. We are very vulnerable at night," Charrier said.

The tornado in Randolph County did serious damage to more than two-dozen properties. The one in Miller County uprooted trees, knocked over sheds and tore the roof off at least one house.

Brumley resident Billy Watson told KOMU Tuesday, "It was just a shock as to where did this come from. There was no warning. There were no warnings out."

Charrier said, being in what is sometimes a radar dead space limits the ability to alert people, especially at night.  In Monday night's case, the tornado was small, 30-yards wide and "moving very fast."

"All the negatives were working against us at the time. It was at night. It was dark, and our radar doesn't cover that low," he said. "It's just one of those things. You can prepare and plan and work and do the best you can and sometimes Mother Nature just wins."

KOMU Chief Meteorologist Kenton Gewecke said the stronger a tornado is, the easier it is to detect in mid-Missouri.

"So, in these situations when a tornado is relatively weak and also far away from the radar site, detecting rotation is increasingly difficult."

The Randolph County tornado hit about 100 miles from the closest National Weather Service radar in Kansas City. The Miller County tornado happened about 83 miles from the nearest NWS radar.

Charrier said he encourages families to have a disaster and evacuation place in case of an emergency. 

"We always have to be prepared for the weather in Missouri regardless of the time of year. Have a disaster plan and shelter in place," he said.