One Dead Following Severe Storms Southeast Of St. Louis

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(KTVI)-- A small but powerful tornado ripped through a tiny settlement in Jefferson County, Illinois, killing a woman and injuring two others. It happened about 1:30 Friday afternoon as a series of powerful thunderstorms moved through the area.  Pat Brown, 60, lived in a double wide mobile home on Lynchberg Drive that took the brunt of the damage.  A quarter mile in either direction, and the twister might have hit nothing.

“It’s like it just zoned in on Patty’s house and left everybody else alone,” Marilyn Cockrun said.  “And I don’t understand that of course, but you don’t understand nature.  It’s just gonna do what it’s gonna do.  But I’m trying to keep my composure here.  It’s very hard to do.”

The one thing it missed moving through was a tiny, one room, Amish school house that a parent says was crowded with children.  That father says it was terrifying for the kids, but no one was hurt.

Deputies say as bad as the damage was near Opdyke, they may have caught a break.

“We were very lucky and fortunate that the storm cell only struck this one small area even though we had funnel clouds reported all over the county,” Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch said.

Dozens of people from across the area converged to help the grieving family pick through the wreckage.  They worked for hours, past sunset, but plenty of cleanup remains.

This  video was shot in  Perry County near Elkville, IL by an amateur videographer and posted to Meteorologist Chis Higgins' Facebook page.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 7pm Friday night for 9 Illinois counties.

The National Weather Service has also issued a special weather advisory for the entire FOX 2 News viewing area due to what are called “Cold Air Funnels”. As showers and thunderstorms continue to develop they may create these phenomena. Cold air funnels do not usually rotate. They can descend from the clouds and briefly touchdown. Once it begins to rain, these funnels usually dissipate.

Actual funnel clouds will spin in a counter-clockwise direction.