The greater St. Louis area was blasted by a pretty outrageous storm last night. I was out in it, driving around in my car (as it was overheating... more on that some other time) and pulled into the Flying J in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. I was going to stop anyway, but I saw these horrible looking clouds moving in. The wind picked up too and nearly whipped me off the highway.
I cowered in the gas station with the truckers and various people. Visibility dropped to two or three feet for a few solid minutes as the rains hammered down. The lights throughout the building flashed on and off as power fluctuated and then died altogether.
When it was over and the clouds started to clear, we could see a factory directly to the north --the locals identified as most likely Proctor & Gamble-- which was completely on fire. Flames were shooting directly into the sky to a height of what I'd guess to be one-hundred feet.
I drove home down West-bound I-270 towards the Chain of Rocks bridge in slow bumper-to-bumper traffic. The East-bound lanes were empty and I was soon to learn why. Three tractor trailers had overturned while on the bridge. One was originally in the West-bound lane and had been blown over and was laying with it's wheels in the West-bound lanes and it's trailer in the East-bound lanes. The two other trucks were in the East-bound lanes and had been hauling mobile double-wide homes, now a shambled mess. Crews had just gotten onto the scene and were still scratching their heads about how to remove all three problematic wrecks. The East-bound lanes were completely blocked and closed and 270 was a parking lot from there back to Highway 367 or perhaps farther.
We were without power all night (with no air conditioning) and will most likely be out for the next 3-4 days. It also seems that we are under a boil order for our water which makes it even crazier. It's a good thing we have a gas stove.
KSDK has several articles about the storm and their home page puts the number of folks without power at 360,000. There are also several articles and picture galleries available.
- State Of Emergency: Mayor Asks Gov. To Send In National Guard; 360,000 Without Power
- Photo Gallery: Storms Hit St. Louis Area - including shots of the trucks on the bridge.
- Precautionary Boil Water Order Issued For Missouri American Water Customers Located North Of I-70
It's all so surreal.
Final note: I was wondering what other St. Louis area bloggers were talking about after last night and decided to check out a site I knew of and had participated on called StLBloggers.com. However, I was disappointed to learn that the site is down. I briefly wondered why, and then it occured to me. The site is probably hosted locally and the datacenter is without power. DUH!
Update: KSDK now puts the number without power at nearly half-a-million; 480,000!