Wind gusts impact post

Uncharacteristic and unseasonably high wind gusts approaching 50 mph caused widespread power outages and damage estimated at nearly $800,000 on Fort Leonard Wood Feb. 20, according to Directorate of Public Works officials.

There were no reported injuries or training interruption, according to the Directorate of Emergency Services.

"We currently have a total of 70 facilities with wind damage that are real property facilities," said Brian Nelson, chief of Business Operations and Integration Division, DPW.

"We responded during the winds and spent several hours that afternoon assessing damage and preparing damage repair projects. All damage was assessed the following day when the winds subsided and it was safe for our employees to visually inspect the roofs," Nelson added.

According to DPW officials, of the 70 facilities impacted, 56 suffered minor roof, fascia or window damage, and 14 were considered major damage and required emergency job orders for repair. Three fences will also need repair.

Maintenance crews from privatized contractor, Laclede Electric, restored power to the vast majority of buildings within hours of the outages that were triggered by limbs blown onto power lines.

TSAY/Ferguson-Williams maintenance crews had to canvas the installation in search of and repair or reinstall dislodged traffic and information signs.

The majority of the damage in the privatized housing areas, operated by Balfour and Beatty Communities, was missing roof shingles and fascia. The company responded by placing tarps on roofs and beginning repairs once the winds calmed down.

Eleven of the post's lodging facilities also had shingle or roof fascia damage, according to the post's privatized lodging contractor, InterContinental Hotel Group.

Other wind-related incidents were personal items blown around and fallen or uprooted trees. No post roads were blocked.

"The installation has come a long way in its preparedness and ability to respond to storms since the December 2010 tornado," Nelson said.

"The employees who worked through the tornado have experienced how to assess and move projects quicker to support the installation and all its missions. Our support contractors are better prepared and ready to support."

According to the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, Springfield, Mo., Fort Leonard Wood's highest wind gust peaked at 48 mph and was recorded at 3 p.m.

Rolla experienced the highest gust at 63 mph, Springfield was 62 mph and Lebanon had gusts of 55 mph.

"It is not common, especially when you get such strong winds not associated with thunderstorms," said Gene Hatch, meteorologist, Springfield NWS. "This time of the year when cold air meets warm air -- comes the strong winds.

Temperatures were in the 30s the morning of Feb. 20 and were approaching 70 by mid afternoon. That 40-degree swing was the catalyst, Hatch said.

The weather service issued a high-wind advisory for the area early afternoon and later elevated to a high-wind warning for the entire Ozarks.

High-wind warnings are issued when gusts exceeding 50 mph are forecasted.

"Such warning are unusual and rare for the Ozarks," Hatch said. "I've been here (Springfield) since 1995, and this might have been only the third issued for the area in that time."

Page last updated Fri February 28th, 2014 at 00:00