Tornado leaves 3 dead in SE Missouri

A man and his two adult sons died when a tornado obliterated a mobile home in southeast Missouri, officials said Tuesday.

The twister was part of a storm that struck Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky late Monday, but hit hardest in the tiny village of Diehlstadt, in Scott County, where the three men were killed.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said the mobile home was smashed beyond recognition.

"The frame was probably 100 yards away from where it was sitting," Walter said. "It was just debris everywhere. It just obliterated it."

Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Clark Parrott identified the deceased as 70-year-old Loy Miller, the owner of the trailer, and his sons, Jasper Miller, 50, and Randy Miller, 48. Parrott said it wasn't clear if the sons also lived in the mobile home.

"We had a pretty intense, concentrated storm," Parrott said.

An 11-year-old St. Louis County girl suffered minor head and arm injuries after being pelted by huge chunks of hail.

The gusty storm developed in the St. Louis area Monday afternoon, producing nearly an inch of rain and pingpong-sized hail in some places while leaving others bone dry, National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Sanders said. Hail, about an inch of rain and winds stronger than 50 mph were also reported in parts of southern Illinois and northwestern Kentucky.

The storm became particularly intense in southeast Missouri, and Diehlstadt, a village of 163 residents about 100 miles south of St. Louis, took the worst of it. The National Weather Service said 52 homes and several businesses in the Diehlstadt area had damage, mostly to roofs. A church lost its steeple, and dozens of trees were uprooted or snapped.

Downed power lines closed Highway 77 for several hours, Parrott said. Power was restored before dawn.

The National Weather Service determined the EF-2 tornado was 75 yards wide and had peak winds of 115 mph. Witnesses told Walter they saw a tornado dip down and strike the trailer, then bounce back up and dip down again elsewhere.

The storm was very much hit-and-miss. In the St. Louis area, Chesterfield on the east side of the Missouri River saw a downpour of sideways-blowing rain and hail around 4:30 p.m.; Weldon Spring, on the other side of the river, was virtually dry.

Monday's storm was so spotty that it did virtually nothing to relieve moderate to severe drought conditions in the area.

"We need a couple of inches of rain, big-time," Sanders said. "Heading into May we were above normal rainfall, but May just really killed it."