A severe thunderstorm packing damaging winds swept through northern Jasper County, including the town of Jasper, late Saturday, leaving damaged homes and businesses and no power for most residents.
A severe thunderstorm packing damaging winds swept through northern Jasper County, including the town of Jasper, late Saturday, leaving damaged homes and businesses and no power for most residents. Power lines were destroyed, trees knocked into roads and onto buildings and portions of the roofs of two buildings in Jasper’s historic downtown were torn off and dumped in the middle of Grand Avenue, Jasper’s main street in downtown. Jasper Police Chief Jason Mosher said the damage was significant throughout town, but no one had been reported injured as of about 8 p.m. on Saturday. Mosher said U.S. Highway 71 on the east side of town had to be shut down for about 30 minutes right after the storm when power lines fell onto the roadway. “Traffic was rerouted on Fourth Street in Jasper and we’ve been busy directing traffic because of that,” Mosher said as he stood at a road block on Grand Avenue preventing traffic from approaching the damaged downtown. The Jasper Fire Protection District station on the east side of U.S. 71 was damaged when winds blew in at least one of the big garage doors, and a fire truck that was parked outside had some of its windows blown out. A huge tree fell on a home just north of downtown crushing it. Neighbor Leonard Franklin said, fortunately, no one had lived in the home for some time. Crews spent more than 30 minutes cutting a path through a tree that fell on Park Place on the west side of town. Outside of Jasper, crews with Empire District Electric Company were busy taking stock of the downed power lines that lay scattered on the landscape. An Empire truck with a boom was parked on the shoulder of U.S. 71 near the Thorn Road exit supporting a large power line that had fallen on the highway. Danny O’Hara, a line foreman with Empire, said power poles were blown down on a line stretching to the east of Jasper. Doug Cramer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield, said Jasper was likely hit by a microburst, which happens when cool air in a thunderstorm falls from a great height and hits the ground, spreading out at high speed. Cramer said the winds that hit Jasper could have been as high as 80 or 90 miles per hour.