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Thousands Without Power After Tornado Touched Down

Roughly 2,000 Ameren Illinois customers in the metro-east were still without power as of 9:30 a.m. Friday , said Brian Bretsch , a spokesperson for the utility company.

(TNS) - National Weather Service crews were surveying damage Friday morning following a series of severe storms that included a confirmed tornado northwest of Breese and caused thousands of power outages.

Storms hit southwestern Illinois around noon Thursday and again in the evening. Strong winds and heavy rain downed power lines and trees limbs and damaged buildings.

Survey teams were still reviewing damage as of roughly 10 a.m. from the tornado in rural Clinton County. The tornado only slightly damaged a home and garage but caused heavier damage to a machine shed, grain bin and other structures on a farm, said Jayson Gosselin, a meterologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Wind speeds for that tornado had not yet been determined, Gosselin said, but crews continued to investigate the tornado's path northward. They could find more damage.

The survey team also planned to check on damage in the Freeburg area, where the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency reported a possible tornado. Surveyors will examine the damage to see if it's clustered together in a path, an indication that there could have been a tornado. If damage is more spread out, straight-line winds likely caused the damage, not a tornado.

The weather service received reports of roof damage, tree limbs and power lines down, and a machine shed destroyed on Press Road near Freeburg and Smithton.

It's possible the teams won't finish their work today and may have to go out again Saturday, Gosselin said.

"We got a lot of damage reports but the vast majority of them were winds," he said.

Roughly 2,000 Ameren Illinois customers in the metro-east were still without power as of 9:30 a.m. Friday, said Brian Bretsch, a spokesperson for the utility company.

At roughly 11:45 p.m. Thursday, there were 5,400 reported outages. The highest outage count hit roughly 9,500 shortly after storms left the area around 7 p.m.

Ameren crews worked throughout the day Thursday after the first round of storms hit, causing 3,000 outages, mostly in Madison County. Crews had restored power to all but 300 of those customers before the second round of storms hit, Bretsch said.

Responding to the storm was difficult because it caused "pockets of outages" throughout southwestern Illinois and as far north as Vandalia, Bretsch said. Crews were having to fix smaller lines in individual neighborhoods rather than being able to restore big lines that affect more customers.

"This time because of the wind and the heavy rain, it just tore the heck out of trees," Bretsch said.

Ameren hoped to restore power to the remaining customers by the evening.

This story was originally published May 20, 2022 10:34 AM.


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