Today marks 10 years since Good Friday tornado that ripped through Lambert Airport

News

ST. LOUIS – Today marks the ten-year anniversary of the Good Friday tornado that touched down in St. Louis on April 22, 2011.

The EF4 tornado destroyed hundreds of buildings that day. It also left behind major damage at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

There were several injuries, but no one was killed.

report released by NOAA and the National Weather Service raised serious questions about what happened at the airport in the moments before the storm. There are those who say, poor planning, poor execution and communications shortfalls could easily have cost hundreds of lives.

Following the storm investigators from NOAA and the National Weather Service conducted an assessment of the events of that evening coming to some startling conclusions.

The report states, ‘preparedness activities and action plan procedures for the Lambert St. Louis International Airport were minimal and in-effective for this event.’  The report goes on to say the airport authorities, along with the airlines, failed to give any warning to passengers about the imminent threat of the tornado.

It turns out the airport operations center was completely unaware there was a tornado heading straight for the airport.

This despite the fact the National Weather Service warned of a confirmed, damaging tornado moving in that direction some 34 minutes before it arrived.

When airport authorities finally recognized the danger… just seconds before the tornado hit… they abandoned the operations center and took shelter without making any announcement about the warning leaving everyone else in the terminal to fend for themselves.

Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge does not agree with the NOAA report.  She says the findings that the airport was in-effective during the evacuation are extreme.

She does acknowledge that operations center staff failed to make the tornado warning announcement over the airport public address system.  But defends her staff saying the tornado came up quickly and by the time they realized it was going to hit the airport, there was only time for the staff to seek shelter.

That has since been fixed as part of some significant improvements that have been made since the tornado.  They have also constructed a second, underground operations center for severe weather events so the staff can continue to function if this ever happens again.  Other improvements include many more weather radios throughout the terminal and better training for personnel.

Most importantly, the airport has entered a growing partnership with the National Weather Service that has Lambert very close to becoming the first official ‘Storm Ready’ International Airport in the United States.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News