Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Tornado Chronicles: West Liberty, KY Tornado of 3-2-12...

The following is an "uncut / unedited" version of the live blogging that took place surrounding the devastating West Liberty, KY tornado of March 2, 2012. Drop to the bottom of the post for the original posting, then you can see the updates as you scroll back up to the top.

***Also, I have credited all photos/videos whenever possible. Some of the photos were provided to me without any information for credit. If you took one of the photos in this blog and would like credit, please e-mail me your information and specify the photo (by referencing the date/time of the update under which the photo is posted).  On the same token, I would also be glad to remove the photo if you prefer, please be specific in your e-mail.***

3/2/13:  A post covering the 1 year anniversary and recovery effort can be found here...

------------------Now, back to the post that originated on 3/2/12:

3/17/12, 10am CST:

Melissa Rose's home in West Liberty was one of many destroyed by the tornado on March 2nd. An amazing story has now surfaced out of the tragedy, when the above picture of her niece and nephew was found 134 miles away in Sissonville, WV!


-One of the most popular questions that I am still receiving to date is "how can I help".  This post on the herald-dispatch.com pulls that information together nicely and was updated yesterday.

-In a related story, the Red Cross is reporting that donations have reached about $1 million at the Louisville chapter, to date.

-A temporary Courthouse is open for business.  The Morgan County office of the Circuit Court Clerk is open for business and providing full services out of a temporary location at 155 University Drive in West Liberty.  One of the most popular services provided so far has been replacing lost driver's licenses.  For information on court schedules and hearings you can call 606-743-3763.

-The West Liberty Elementary School is in need of a playground for their new (temporary) facility.  School starts back next week.  If you or someone you know would like to donate one, please contact principal Vickie Oldfield at vickie.oldfield@morgan.kyschools.us.  You can see the full story here at Lex18.com.



3/14/12, 2pm CST:
I apologize for not posting an update for the last 2 days.  I've been moving my office and trying to get things set up at the new location before the next major weather event takes place.  Here are a few noteworthy items since my last post/update:

-Blog reader Estill sent me this link to the Lexington Herald-Leader, which has several different photo albums of the tornado aftermath and recovery in West Liberty and other areas.

-Dr. David Fugate of the West Liberty Vet Clinic and other area veterinarians are busy taking care of lost and injured pets.  One amazing story of pet survival is that of "Twister" the horse, who was reportedly picked-up and dropped into the kitchen of his owner's home after the roof of was torn off.  You can see the video on that story by going here.

-Now that the region has been declared a FEMA disaster area, residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance.  Those who need assistance can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

-The Red Cross has now begun "one on one" case work in order to directly assist individuals and families in the West Liberty area.  Case workers are available to meet with those in need of help and provide assistance with replacing household goods, paying for or providing food and water, assistance with the financial needs of repairing a home or paying an insurance deductible, etc.

The Red Cross has established a Client Assistance Center at Morgan Central Elementary School in West Liberty, where individuals can meet with a case worker.  Case workers are also going door to door in neighborhoods where they can.  If you need to speak to someone with the Red Cross and have not been contacted, please call 1-800-696-3873.


3/11/12, 10am CST:
A dramatic compilation of videos from security cameras as the tornado tore through the West Liberty area:




...and here is the link to a related story by LEX18 TV.  Thanks to blog reader Scott for sending me the link!

In other news, please take a look at this story on recovering from a major tornado on Kentucky.com.  I can't stress enough the point (about midway through the story) regarding choosing a contractor carefully - and never handing over money until the job is complete.  Unfortunately, there are too many people out  there willing to take advantage of this type of situation.  This obviously applies to all of the areas stricken with tornado damage earlier in the month, not just the West Liberty area.


 
3/9/12, 5pm CST:
The West Liberty school district has announced that classes will resume on March 19th.  The Elementary school, district headquarters and many vehicles were heavily damaged or destroyed.  A vacant factory near the Elementary School is being converted into a temporary location where elementary classes can be held, as well as temporary housing for some of the district offices as well.  The full story from the courier-journal can be found here.


Also, blog reader CindyRella Whitcomb of the West Liberty area was kind of enough to send me the following damage photos that she took.  Please note the debris in the trees and in some cases wrapped around trees or poles:







3/7/12, 3pm CST:
Residents of West Liberty were being allowed back into most areas of town as of today, however the The Kentucky Department of Emergency Management cautions residents that many areas are still not safe due to debris, some of which could include potentially hazardous materials.



Vehicles wishing to enter the city are required to pass through a checkpoint, and must be able to show residency to be allowed in.  Officials encourage folks to come in groups and car pool if possible, so as to limit the number of vehicles that can safely pass through heavily damaged areas.


Banks were also opening temporary locations today, allowing customers to withdraw up to $500.00 at one time:

-Commercial Bank has a temporary location at 151 University Drive.  They also plan to open a 2nd temporary location near the IGA in Index tomorrow (Wednesday, 3/7/12).

-Citizens Bank customers can use branches located in Morehead, Owingsville and Sharpsburg.  

-Bank of the Mountains customers can use their non-downtown location in West Liberty, as well as their location in Ezel.


3/6/12, 7pm CST:
-The American Red Cross announced this afternoon that the shelter at Morgan Elementary school has been relocated to the Assembly of Faith Church at 558 Highway 519 in West Liberty.  This was effective 5pm CST this evening.  Approximately 60 people are staying at this shelter until they can find another place to stay.

-One of our blog readers in the West Liberty area e-mailed me to say that folks wishing to donate supplies (canned food, water, pet food, etc.), as well as those that need to pick up those types of supplies can go to the Woodsbend Community Church.  They also have limited space for anyone that needs a place to stay at night as well.  She also sent me some additional damage photos that I will get up on the blog tomorrow (I'm in a place with a very slow internet connection this evening, and it would take forever for me to upload them).

-A community-wide fundraiser has also been set for Saturday, March 24th.  It will take place at the Carl Perkins Center in Morehead, from Noon to dark.  The event will feature a chili dinner, silent auction and live performers.  All proceeds will go to benefit the victims of the West Liberty tornado.  Anyone wishing to donate items for auction or volunteer to perform should contact Darcy Gillock at (606) 356-3510.

-In case you missed it (in other parts of the country) yesterday, snow fell across the West Liberty area on Sunday night and early Monday:


The snow was not heavy by any means, but it did not help crews that were already struggling to return power, water and gas service as quickly as possible.  We've heard today (Tuesday, 3/6/12) that crews have made great progress during the last 24 hours, with some reports indicating that power has been restored to as many as 90 percent of the customers (that still have a structure with functioning electrical meters) in downtown West Liberty as of this afternoon.  It will take awhile longer to restore power to more of the outlying areas depending on the extent of the damage, debris removal, etc.

3/6/12, 2pm CST:

The total path length of the West Liberty tornado has been extended to 95 miles, as a survey across the West Virginia border indicates a preliminary ending point to the Southwest of Charleston.  It is possible that the ending point may be 10 to 15 miles further East/Northeast as well, and that possibility is still being surveyed.


3/5/12, 12:45pm CST:
Contractors are continuing to try and restore electrical and/or gas service to the downtown area. Kentucky State Police official report that once it is safe, they plan to loosen restrictions on folks coming into that part of town.

Also, the U.S. Postal Service says that they will attempt to deliver mail as normal in West Liberty this week. Mail for homes and/or businesses that are in a blocked-off part of town, and mail for locations that don't have a mailbox visible will be taken to the Campton Post Office where it can be picked-up by showing an I.D.


3/5/12, 7:50am CST:
Another video has emerged of the actual tornado itself. This video proves once again that even a terrain made up of large hills is no match for a strong tornado:




3/4/12, 3:50pm CST:
A new YouTube video has emerged, showing the "West Liberty tornado" near its beginning point (to the West) in Menifee County:





3/4/12, 3:25pm:
Some more interesting damage and tornado photos I've stumbled upon...
This is the house that Dayla McCarty was sheltered in during the tornado:



...and this was the picture she shot from the back porch as the tornado approached:



Thankfully, she and her family came through the event safely.

Here are a few photos of the damage at the Liberty Heights Apartments (taken by Alicia Wagoner, via facebook):






3/4/12, 2:55pm CST:
Now that communications are gradually coming back online and/or folks are being relocated to areas that have better communications, I'm told that the registry list on the Amercian Red Cross "Safe and Well" website is starting to grow.

If you have a family member or friend that you're wanting to check on, it's worth a try to see if they (or another immediate relative) have checked in via the "Safe and Well" list.  The link (which is on the American Red Cross website) is here.  You have to register yourself in order to view the registry list, but it only takes a minute or so.

If you live outside of Kentucky and want to help folks there or in one of the other tornado stricken areas, you may want to consider making a donation to the American Red Cross.  Once you go to the donation link, you can specify where you'd like your funds to go.



3/4/12, 2:15pm CST:
Another video has emerged of the tornado itself (or at least the top of it). The video appears to have been taken in front of the Potter Funeral Home (329 Glenn Avenue in West Liberty):



These folks are lucky. The tornado was moving right toward them, and debris could have fallen out of the sky at any time. "Don't try this at home..."

3/4/12, 7:35am CST:

To add insult to injury, a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the West Liberty area, mainly for tonight.

Sprinkles or flurries are possible today, with light snow expected to develop tonight.  1-3 inches of snow accumulation is possible tonight.



3/4/12, 7am CST:


The NWS survey team from the Jackson, KY office has completed its survey on the West Liberty tornado, up to a point on the East side of West Liberty. Presumably today they will finish up with the Eastern end of the track, which is shown on the image above.

The survey estimates the beginning point took place about 2 miles Southwest of Mariba in Menifee County at approximately 5:39 PM EST. The path length, so far, amounts to 34 miles with a maximum width in the damage path of 1 mile.

As I mentioned yesterday evening, the preliminary NWS survey rating of the tornado is EF-3 intensity, and the survey cites "estimated peak winds of 140 mph".  On the operational scale of EF-intensity, an EF-3 tornado is described as producing winds in the range of 136-165 mph.


3/3/12, 6:55 pm CST:
Depending on which national media source or local/state official you listen to, the death toll in West Liberty ranges from 1-5 at this hour.  I am simply amazed, and very grateful.  Although it is certainly a tragedy for the families and friends of those victims, if that really ends up being the final death toll, the city of West Liberty has much to be thankful for.  By all accounts, this was a very large and strong tornado which caused some form of damage to almost every structure in town (if not every one indeed).  I feared a death toll of 100+ when I saw and heard the first damage reports come in last night.  Thank goodness that did not come to pass.

With that said, the folks in West Liberty have a long road ahead of them, recovery wise.  We need to continue to keep this community, and their neighbors, in our thoughts and prayers.  

On another note... the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jackson, TN has rated the West Liberty tornado EF-3 intensity.  My e-mail inbox is flooded with requests for my feelings and/or commentary on that rating.  I obviously wasn't there on the ground participating in the survey.  With that said, I have seen several photos and video clips that suggest a higher rating was warranted.  I intend to look over this material in greater detail over the next day or so before making any further comments on that subject.


3/3/12, 4:25 pm CST:
New aerial video of the West Liberty damage. Kind of shaky at times, but very revealing. I intend to take a closer look at this and the other aerial videos and images that I've posted today and make some commentary in the next day or so:



Also, blog reader Scott just e-mailed me this link which contains videos (some of which are already scattered about within the post) of various interviews and damage scenes around the area.  I can't embed the videos, so here is the link.  Cautionary note:  a couple of the videos automatically play at the same time when you go to the link.  Just pause them all and start over to view them.



3/3/12, 4:15 pm CST:
The series of frames below show the radar imagery from the Jackson, KY radar site as the tornadic supercell responsible for producing the West Liberty tornado moved into the area.  The images begin at 5:29 pm EST, and end at 6:10 pm EST and are in roughly 5 minute intervals.

I'll first run the sequence in order so you can see the progression without interruption.  West Liberty is located near the center of each image (West Liberty and other city names noted in white lettering).  Click on the images to enlarge:














As the tornado picked up a large amount of debris in and near West Liberty, a radar signature known as a "debris ball" became visible.  I've circled the debris ball in white on the images below, which are duplicates of the 5:56, 6:01 and 6:05 pm EST radar images:




A debris signature is detected on radar when the tornado has lifted up large amounts of debris and is carrying it along as it moves forward.  Radar energy is bounced off of the debris and returned back to the radar, resulting in the signature.

I'll make a separate post later on with more detailed analysis of the radar imagery, including velocity (wind speed and direction) images.


3/3/12, 4pm CST:
Via Lex18, the Morgan County ARH Hospital in West Liberty sustained significant damage from the tornado yesterday.  All second floor windows were blown out, there was extensive damage to the roof and exterior doors, and cars were flipped in the parking lot.  No patients or staff were injured according to the report.

The emergency room of the hospital is reportedly treating patients at this time, but no one is being admitted.  Inpatients are being transferred to other hospitals in neighboring areas.

3/3/12, 3pm CST:
I would expect to see network news coverage this evening on CBS, CNN, the WeatherChannel and NBC, from what I'm hearing.  All of those networks have crews arriving in West Liberty as we speak (I believe the WeatherChannel will be doing the work for NBC as well as their own network).


3/3/12, 1:35pm CST:
Some very high resolution photos just posted on twitter (via @angelabeavin), show a closer view of a couple of the buildings that we posted photos of last night:


Commercial Bank

Methodist Church

...and this photo was also posted (source unknown) showing an aerial view looking down main street:


...another aerial photo downtown, source unknown:




3/3/12, 12:35pm CST:




Aerial video (looks like it was taken by a smartphone) of National Guard flying in to West Liberty earlier today.  The video link is here.


Next is a new YouTube video showing the damage coming into town near the hospital:




Also, TV Station LEX13 (in Lexington, KY) recently posted to their facebook page that a crew they have in the West Liberty area said that survivors were still being found and pulled out of damaged homes and buildings this morning.  That's certainly the kind of news we want to hear!


3/3/12, 12 Noon CST:
Following are very detailed photos of the damage, some of the most detailed we've seen yet, taken by Craig Dennis of West Liberty, KY.  I won't comment on each one, but there are a few things I'd like to point out on some of them:


What's Left of the Christian Church

The Freezer Fresh

Citizens Bank

The Old High School

Pole Next to Payton's Pharmacy

Main Street Below Pool Room

Morgan County Utilities Building

Old Pool Room

Take a close look at the next two photos, which are homes that are side by side, street not specified:



If you look closely at the house on the right, you can see pock marks from the debris that struck the brick, likely from the house next door.  I've highlighted the pock marks in a copy of the 2nd photo below (look near the tips of the yellow arrows - click on the image, as with all of them, to enlarge the view): 


The next two images show the damage at the old court house.  Look closely at the base that should be holding what was reportedly a bronze statue of a solider.  The statue is gone:



You can also see several debris pock marks on the right side (above picture) of the courthouse building as well.

The next series of images were taken along a mostly residential area of Riverside Drive:

On Main St. Looking Toward Riverside Dr.

Home on Riverside Dr.

Browns TV Building on Riverside Dr.

This next photo of what was once a home on Riverside Drive has ominous implications as to the likely strength of the tornado.  The foundation has been wiped clean.  I'm assuming this was a standard frame built home, as most of the others I've seen have been:


...and here are two more photos of heavily damaged homes on Riverside Dr:





3/3/12, 11:15 am CST:
The following video was taken by Stephanie Fannin near Ezel, KY, which is aprpoximately 12 miles West of West Liberty.  The video shows intense circulation very near them (they should have been in shelter, they were much too close):




Just because you don't see a condensation funnel all the way to the ground doesn't mean that you're not seeing a tornado.  I believe the circulation extended all the way to the ground at this time, the vantage point of the video just doesn't allow you to see the debris, etc.

This tornado then proceeded Eastward, and likely intensified, into West Liberty area.  Scroll down to the update from 7:20 pm CST yesterday evening and you'll see the short clip of the large tornado (with a full condensation funnel) as it moved into West Liberty.

Once the "live blogging" mode of this post has ended, I will pull both of these videos as well as the still shots of the tornado from throughout the post into the chronological order in which they took place.


3/3/12, 10:47am CST:
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Jackston, TN is conducting ground surveys of tornado damage across eastern Kentucky at this time.  We hope to have more detailed survey information on the West Liberty tornado later today.

Below is a preliminary map (literally drawn by hand), indicating known tornado tracks that were reported by folks on the ground (in red) and estimated tornado tracks that were indicated by radar (in purple).  County names are shown in black, outlines in grey (via NWS Jackson, TN):


I'll be sure to post any updates on the survey information as they become available.  I am also working on the radar imagery from yesterday afternoon and will have that posted hopefully within 1-2 hours from now.


3/3/12, 10:30am CST:
Another photo of the damage downtown:



Also, it was just reported that Appalachian Wireless has restored service to their tower in the West Liberty area.  Other carriers are still working on restoring service.  Please remember to text loved ones whenever possible.  Voice calls take up more bandwidth, which is a precious commodity for emergency and recovery workers right now.

Another interesting piece of trivia:  mail debris from West Liberty has now been reported as far East as Charleston, WV, over 100 air miles away!


I plan to get some radar images posted later this morning that will show the debris ball being carried along by the tornado.


3/3/12, 10am CST: Added a news video to the survivor portion of the post (scroll down to the dashed line breaks near the middle of the post).  The person is not identified, but maybe someone will recognize her.  A couple of ladies are also shown sitting in the back of an ambulance near the beginning of the video.


3/3/12, 8:10am CST:

Three YouTube videos of the damage in West Liberty by Frank Leppar. Kind of dark and shaky at times, but we are given some idea as to the destruction. You can also see some of the survivors walking around, hopefully someone you know:






Update at 3/3/12, 7am CST:

I'm not going to do a lot of narrative right off today, just trying to get photos and/or videos up as I can find them.  I also won't post every update to facebook for roughly the next hour because I expect there to be too many.  Just bookmark the blog post and refresh it every few minutes.  If there is anything particularly noteworthy, I will post a facebook update.

Additional photos of the damage in the downtown area (via twitter @danmatics):












------------------------------------------SURVIVORS----------------------------------------------
I don't typically do this, but there are so many folks concerned about their families and friends and communication is still so very limited that I have decided to start accumulating a list of names of people that I have seen interviewed by various media sources.  In a nutshell, if I see that a citizen of West Liberty is specifically named in a news article, video, etc., I will list their name here so you know that they are okay.

I will keep adding to this list today as any new interviews come forward, so you'll want to scroll down to it from time to time after refreshing the blog post (I'll keep the dashed lines before and after this part of the post so that it can be seen easily).  Please note:  I will never publish the name of anyone who has passed away (and officials don't usually release their names anyway):

Martha Jo Hall - took shelter at home
Stacy and David Lemaster, 3 kids - took shelter at Giovanni's restaurant
Patsy and Zeke Hensley - took shelter at home in the basement
Faye Isaac - was at the Dollar Store, has a few minor scratches
Rusty Hutchison
Kayla Ratliff (her mother and uncle are also okay)
Darlene Young
Connie Bressler (and her husband)
Rev. Kenneth Jett and his wife - took shelter in Methodist Church basement
Kopana Terry
David Bailey (and his family)
Steve Burton (and his daughter)
Joyce Morris (and her 3 children)


Where appropriate, I'll also include any photos that show survivors, on the chance someone might be able to recognize a family member they're looking for.  If any information is provided as to the exact location in town where the photo was taken, I will include it below the photo:


Downtown

Downtown


Downtown


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some new statistics that have come in overnight:
-More than 30 emergency and disaster teams from across the region converged on West Liberty overnight and search/rescue operations have been ongoing

-State emergency management confirms 3 deaths and 75 injuries, however they caution that both will likely rise significantly with the light of day (as we have feared).

-The community remains locked down with only emergency/rescue crews being allowed in. 

-The Red Cross has set up evacuation shelters at Morgan County High School and at Elliot County High School and Rowan County Middle School.

New damage photos courtesy courier-journal.com:

Residential damage - unknown part of town

Residential damage - unknown part of town

Wide view of downtown and adjacent residential area

Vehicles damaged in hospital parking lot

Vehicles damaged in hospital parking lot

Partial view of the hospital and parking lot

Partial view of the hospital and parking lot


Vehicles damaged in hospital parking lot



Damage video from WTVQ (note, you'll have to pause the video after the West Liberty story airs because it automatically flows into another unrelated story afterward):




***Update 11:30 pm CST: Not really an update, but wanted to emphasize what someone posted in comments a few minutes ago.  I also pointed this out earlier, but it may have been lost in the shuffle as a lot of info. flowed in earlier this evening in a short period of time...

If you are trying to reach a loved one in the West Liberty area by cellphone, please text them rather than calling them.  There is very limited bandwidth available in the area right now, and emergency crews need every bit they can get to aid with search and rescue operations, etc.  

A mobile communications unit is on the way to the area, which should hopefully improve the situation (communications-wise) by morning.

I know a very long night is ahead for many of you.  "Not knowing" is one of the worst feelings in the world.  Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with you and your family members... and we certainly hope and pray for a positive outcome with the light of day Saturday...



***Update 10:45 pm CST: Unfortunately, we're seeing very little new information coming out now that the 11pm EST news cycle has ended. As I pointed out in the comments section a few minutes ago, it will probably not be until the light of day that we really get a truly fresh dose of information...

To recap some of the latest news:  the Kentucky Department of Emergency Management is sending several crews as well as a mobile communication center to the area.

There are 3 churches in the Grayson area that are providing shelter for the survivors that are without homes:  1st Baptist, Stinson Church of Christ and 1st Church of Christ.  They were asking for air mattresses, pillows and blankets earlier this evening.

The Red Cross is dispatching teams to the area to assist both survivors and rescue workers tonight.

Readers with connections in the area have commented that the hospital is damaged, but we don't know to what extent, and the correctional facility was not damaged.  We still don't have word on the nursing home.

I will continue to monitor the feeds and wires for awhile longer, but I wouldn't expect updates to be as frequent since the flow has slown down quite a bit over the last half hour.  The emergency crews are doing their jobs now, and we need to keep them and the folks they're trying to rescue in our thoughts and prayers tonight for sure.

If we don't have anything significant to report tonight, or if you're turning in for the night, be sure to check back tomorrow for even more information.  I'd also love to hear from those of you that are trying to reach your family once you get ahold of them.

***Update 10:10 pm CST: Another photo of unknown buildings downtown with damage:



Debris from West Liberty has reportedly been found in Lincoln County, West Virginia - over 75 miles away.


***Update 9:55 pm CST: Another damage photo from downtown (twitter, via @boofcombs):



I'm also hearing that there was damage (unknown extent) to the hospital.  Lots of folks are asking about the nursing home, but I have not seen or heard of a report from there as of yet...

The Kentucky Department of Emergency Management is sending a mobile communications center there right now, which should vastly improve the flow of information into and out of the city.


***Update 9:43 pm CST: Another photo of the tornado itself:




***Update 9:35 pm CST: Commercial Bank in West Liberty:



...and another unknown building downtown:


...in front of City Hall:




***Update 9:28 pm CST: Another view of the tornado itself. As I always say (unfortunately), hills/mountains are no problem for a tornado...they will not protect you:




***Update 9:25 pm CST: Another photo of downtown West Liberty:




***Update 9:20 pm CST: I don't normally post videos of people shooting their TV screen, but we have so many folks wondering about damage in West Liberty I want to get the info. out.  Hopefully we'll have more/clearer video soon...





***Update 9:05 pm CST: Trying to determine the name of the street (most likely Main St), but this appears to be downtown West Liberty (via @joshmgood on twitter):



A blog reader commented on Facebook that the above photo is at the intersection of Court and Main St.

***Update 8:55 pm CST:  This photo of a damaged building in West Liberty was just posted on twitter (via @kristenmkennedy).  This looks like a church to me.  Several readers familiar with the area have identified it as the Methodist Church.  (An earlier google image search apparently identified it incorrectly as the West Liberty Christian Church, which was almost completely leveled -  see photo toward the top of the post from update at 12 Noon CST on 3/3/12).




***Update 8:50 pm CST: Please watch the "comments" at the end of the post as well.  If folks ask a question that I'm able to answer, I will do my best at getting the information out that way as well (unfortunately, there are still many more unanswered questions than answered ones at this point)...


***Update 8:40 pm CST: Survivor's from West Liberty are reportedly being directed to churches in Grayson for shelter.  The churches are asking for air mattresses, blankets and pillows.  The churches are:  1st Baptist, Stinson Church of Christ and 1st Church of Christ.  If you live in this area and can safely get to those locations, your donations of those supplies would be appreciated.


***Update 8:10 pm CST:  Kentucky office of Emergency Management confirms that the communications infrastructure is heavily damaged in the West Liberty area.  They described the situation as "having lost all communication" with the city.  If you are trying to reach a loved one there, please try texting them instead of a voice call.  Emergency workers need what little bandwidth is available for voice calls right now...


***Update 7:50 pm CST:  From the Kentucky DOT, US 460 and KY 7 in West Liberty are closed until further notice.  The governor's office is reporting that 5 people have been killed and an unknown number have been injured, however there are still believed to be folks missing and/or trapped.  The Kentucky National Guard has been called in to assist with the recovery and security efforts.


***Update, 7:20 pm CST: A short, but very impressive video was just posted via twitter. It was reportedly taken in West Liberty, KY. A quick google search indicates that the McDonald's (in the foreground) in West Liberty is located at 1640 West Main Street:




Here is the video as just posted on YouTube:



***Update, 7pm CST:  Unfortunately we're still not seeing any photos or videos out of West Liberty.  All we're hearing (from various media reports, emergency scanners, etc.) is that there is widespread, significant damage throughout the town, including the court house being either severely damaged or completely destroyed.  No definitive word on casualties at this time.


-------------------------------------Original post:


National weather service and local officials are reporting "numerous fatalities and injuries" from a tornado in West Liberty, KY a short while ago.

It is no wonder when a storm with a radar signature like this one moved through around 5pm CST:


This situation is unfolding as I write this post.  Stay tuned for updates, and please keep the folks in this community in your thoughts and prayers...

I'm afraid that more stories like this one are unfolding, we just haven't heard about all of them yet...

One more thing...you're correct if this seems very familiar.  West Liberty was hit by an EF-2 tornado this past Wednesday, 2-29-12!  What are the chances?  They were still cleaning up from that one, and now they've been hit again.  I'm afraid this one will prove to be much worse.

This tornado was just one of many associated with the outbreak that took place across the Midwest, Ohio and Tennessee Valley region on Friday, March 2, 2012.  Please see this post for a "Table of Contents" index listing of the other Tornado Chronicles posts associated with the outbreak. 

For more information from 'The Original Weather Blog', including shorter, more frequent posts during rapidly changing weather events, please be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter:
 


Coming March 2013:  The Tornado Chronicles full website!
Including information on every U.S. tornado since 1950, tornado safety, preparedness and education as well as interactive radar, tornado outlooks, watches and warnings, and much more!  Please show your support and follow The Tornado Chronicles on twitter and on facebook for the latest updates on tornadoes and the upcoming website!