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Good Friday tornado strikes St. Louis airport; Twister rated EF4

Sunday, April 24th, 2011 5:15am MDT
Extensive damage seen at St. Louis airport after tornado strikes. (Twitpic / LakishaJackson)

Extensive damage seen at St. Louis airport after tornado strikes. View more images in the slideshow below. (Twitpic / LakishaJackson)

Severe weather struck the St. Louis area Friday evening bringing large hail, damaging winds and powerful tornadoes.  One twister tore a lengthy pass through the city hitting the airport and causing extensive damage to the facility and nearby homes.

The most significant component of the storm system was a powerful EF4 tornado packing winds of more than 166mph at its peak and causing damage nearly one-half mile wide at the widest point.  Initially touching down west of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, the tornado followed a 22 mile long path destroying homes and causing extensive damage at the airport.

At the airport tornado sirens were sounded as the storm approached and many of the estimated 500 travelers at the airport sought shelter.  The powerful tornado struck and blew out 60 percent of the windows in the main terminal building and partially lifted the roof on Concourse C.

On the grounds of the airport baggage carts were tossed about and the tarmacs were littered with debris.  Parking areas saw cars smashed and thrown into each other like toys.

Residential areas to the west of the airport where the tornado first touched down bore the brunt of the damage, particularly in the community of Bridgton.  Many homes were reduced to piles of wood and cinder while trees and power lines were downed.

After crossing the airport the tornado continued on its path damaging other buildings and homes.  Extensive roof damage was caused to the First Baptist Church of Ferguson and a Little Caesars Restaurant saw its roof torn completely off.

Slideshow: Lambert-St. Louis International Airport struck by tornadoThe tornado then crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois.  Three homes saw their roofs torn off while others sustained significant damage.

Despite the twister’s lengthy path of destruction and powerful nature, no fatalities were reported.  At the airport five people were treated for relatively minor injuries.

Do you know what to do to protect yourself and your family when severe weather strikes? The same type of events that struck in recent days can and do occur in Colorado.  Check out our Severe Weather Awareness series for more:

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