Storm spotters in Butler Co. are ‘all hands on deck’ for severe weather

Updated: Jan. 10, 2020 at 11:26 PM CST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - The severe weather hitting the Heartland Saturday Jan 11 will also be packing strong winds and a possibility of tornadoes.

Storm spotters in Butler County said they’re “all hands on deck” to update public safety agencies as the system moves through.

Keith Berry is an elite trained storm spotter with about 46 years of experience.

“Weather is our passion, and this is a public service thing we do," Berry said. "It doesn’t matter when it is, whenever that weather is rolling in we will be doing our best to be out there and making sure that we can provide that information back to keep everyone safe.”

Barry is one of a dozen members of the Poplar Bluff Severe Weather Response Team.

The volunteer organization is using new technology like live camera feeds and drones to monitor the overnight storm and report any changes to the National Weather Service.

“Here in Butler County area, Poplar Bluff, the radar is approximately 5,000 feet above the surface before they can really see anything," Berry said. "So if the storms are below and if there is a tornado that is down in lower levels or anything going on they really can’t see it. We work and try to position ourselves in the right areas to try and catch it early.”

Because the ground is already wet, Berry says it’s possible the high winds could uproot trees and cause some power outages.

“After the storm we will do a damage assessment," Berry said. “The same thing goes on with the power company with street departments, making sure we are all in communication so we can get things cleared out as quick as possible.”

The largest threat of the overnight storm will still be flash flooding.

Berry said they’re expecting 2 or 3 more inches of rain which could easily cover low lying roads and bridges.

“Flash flooding is one of the biggest killers for weather events,” Berry said. “People don’t realize that just six inches of water can move a vehicle. It’s very dangerous to drive through a flooded low water crossings. As the National Weather Service says ‘Turn around, Don’t drown.’"

The Poplar Bluff Severe Weather Response Team also has a Facebook page where they provide real time updates on the storms they’re watching.

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