Entries in Midwest (26)


New Winter Storm Picks Up Speed

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Midwest is bracing for yet more winter weather.  Parts of the region surpassed their annual snowfall records just last month, and now those areas could get another foot of snow.
Monday night into early Tuesday, Minneapolis is expected to get somewhere between six and 10 inches.

Just south and east of the Wisconsin area, northeast Iowa and western and northern Illinois are expecting somewhere closer to a foot. Areas near Chicago could see snow hitting the six to 10-inch mark when it's all said and done.

See the ABC News report from World News with Diane Sawyer:


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Winter Storm Batters the Rockies, Midwest

Comstock/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- As millions prepare to hit the roads or skies ahead of Christmas Day, a winter storm is plowing through several parts of the country Thursday morning, threatening to hamper many travelers' plans.

Nearly 20 inches of snow has already been reported in Colorado, just west of Denver, while in Des Moines, Iowa, a foot of the white stuff has accumulated.

Fifteen states are currently under winter storm watches or warnings, with blizzard warnings in effect for seven states.

The storm is expected to strengthen as it moves over Chicago on Thursday, changing rain to snow there and dumping up to a half a foot in the Windy City.

The system will move eastward Thursday night, spreading rain into the Northeast, with some areas from Washington, D.C., to Boston getting up to 3 inches.  Cold air will then come in from behind the storm Friday night, changing rain to snow in western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and West Virginia, where 3 to as much as 14 inches could accumulate in the highest elevations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


String of 50 Midwest Church Robberies Believed to Be Connected

SE Michigan Crimestoppers(LINDEN, Mich.) -- Authorities believe that at least 50 church robberies that have taken place across a string of Midwestern states in recent months – with the thieves taking everything from money for the poor to gift cards for seminary students – are connected.

According to a crime bulletin released by law enforcement agencies in southeast Michigan and northern Ohio, authorities are searching for two young white males caught on tape by security cameras. One man, wearing a navy blue sweatshirt, is holding a crowbar in the photos.

That was one of the weapons used to break into the Family Tabernacle Church of God in Unadilla Township, Mich., this fall. In fact, the church has been burglarized twice in the last year, but the most recent incident came on Oct. 30 when the robbers smashed a window and ransacked the church's office looking for money. Fortunately for the church, they had installed an alarm system after a break-in last spring saw over $7,000 worth of musical instruments stolen.

"After that we got an alarm system," Pastor Jeff Howard said in a phone interview Friday. "We're in a rural area, but on a state road with a lot of neighbors in front of us and on one side of us, so we felt pretty safe, but evidently we're not."

Howard's church is just one of many – stretching from Flint in eastern Michigan down into northern Ohio and even west into northern Indiana – that have been victimized, a string of robberies that Howard finds deeply disturbing.

"It shows that we as a society are moving away from God instead of moving towards Him. That concerns me," he said. "The thing that's puzzling is if we're responding to these tough times this way, it means people must be angry with God. That's disturbing. All our blood sweat and tears are in this building. It really hurt to see it torn apart like that, but at the same time it showed us how important what we are doing is for this community that we live in. I told them at church that the folks did this came to the right place for help, but they came in the wrong way and at the wrong time. We would still reach out to them today to do everything we could to help them. I just pray that they get the help they need."

Authorities have now posted security photos of two suspects, a development that sprang from an Oct. 7 break-in at Hope Lutheran Church in Linden, Mich.

"They came in the early morning and used a crowbar to break into the church through our doors. They pried open some filing cabinets and got into our safe. They were apparently only looking for money because they left all our computers and other equipment," Pastor Jim Roth said in a phone interview. "We don't store money here, but they took gift cards from our safe that were for seminary students. One of the gift cards was for Wal-Mart and they were able to get pictures of the guys at Wal-Mart in southern Michigan and it matches the ones we took with our security cameras."

"The police thought that because we got pictures of them here and there that that would be very helpful in catching them," Roth noted.

In a press release Friday from the Lenawee County Sheriff Department and the Michigan State Police, authorities said they are looking for two "people of interest" and they believe the break-ins – which started around Aug. 13 with a robbery in Woodstock Township – "are all related."

"We've got photos of the guys now, so that's good," Detective Jeff Smith of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office told ABC News. "We may get some leads coming in soon."

"The last I heard, there are well over 50 churches that have been broken into," he said. "Here in Monroe County I've got eight reports on my desk. They're mostly looking for money. They're going for small, out-of-the-way churches, not hitting the big churches. I think that is because these churches are out in the country, they may not have surveillance systems, they're usually on dark, unlit roads, and some of these congregations lock up after Sunday and don't come back until later in the week. The robbers know it's going to be a few days before the break-in will even be discovered."

According to Howard, the thieves are not getting away with considerable amounts of money, despite the huge number of churches they have hit.

"These guys are looking at prison time from these break-ins and with us, they didn't get anything. With some break-ins they're getting only $200," he said. "So even though they've broken into over 40 churches, they're not getting that much at all. It's just hard to justify it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heat Wave Over Most of US Finally Breaks

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Relief from a record-breaking heat wave in the Midwest and East has finally arrived, and residents can expect more seasonal temperatures over the next five days.

The triple-digit temperatures are being blamed for at least 35 heat-related deaths, including 18 in Chicago’s Cook County.

Some 2,438 high-temperature records were set during an 11-day period that ended Saturday, according to, including in Raleigh, N.C., where the thermometer went over the 100-degree mark for six days straight.

In Washington D.C., the temperature went above 95 degrees for 11 straight days, including a one-day record of 105 on Saturday.

The intense heat has buckled roads, bent rails, derailed trains and even melted airport runway asphalt.  

US Airways reports one of its planes got stuck on Friday when its wheels sank into tarmac “soft spots” while pulling away from a gate at Ronald Reagan National Airport.  The passengers and luggage were removed while an airport tug towed the plane out of its sticky mess.  The flight was delayed for three hours.

Approximately 100,000 people in West Virginia and Ohio are still without power, more than a week after powerful thunderstorms tore through the region.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nearly Two Million People Still Without Power After Storms

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly two million people are still without power in several Midwest and mid-Atlantic states that were pummeled by a series of violent thunderstorms last Friday night.

That number includes more than half a million homeowners in Washington, D.C., who have been told they may not get their power back until the end of the week.

D.C.’s power company, Pepco, says utility crews are working hard, removing hundreds of downed trees and re-stringing countless power lines.  Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson says utility crews from as far away as Canada have been called in to help restore power.

All told, about three million homes lost power, and 22 people lost their lives.  The governors of Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia, and the mayor of Washington, D.C., all declared states of emergency.

Meteorologists say the lightning, fierce winds and pounding rain that pummeled the region was not your average series of thunderstorms, it was a “derecho.”

AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Edwards says a derecho forms when an atmospheric disturbance lifts warm air in regions experiencing intense heat, causing thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds to develop.  The region had experienced several days of 100-plus temperatures ahead of last Friday’s storms.

Friday's derecho took 12 hours to cover more than 700 miles before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

Edwards says derechos are more difficult to predict than other severe weather events because meteorologists are unable to identify exactly where the precise combination of factors needed to trigger a derecho will emerge.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Three Children Among Five Dead in Oklahoma After Tornado Outbreak

Julie Denesha/Getty ImagesUPDATE: ABC News has learned of another fatality in Woodward, Okla., bringing the death toll up to six.

(WOODWARD, Okla.) -- Three children under the age of 10 are among the five found dead in Woodward, Okla., after violent storms ripped through several states in the nation's mid-section.

Even as crews worked to clean up the damage across the region on Sunday, residents braced for more violent weather that was in the forecast.  Three new tornado warnings were issued until 11 p.m. that included Minneapolis; Little Rock, Ark.; and St. Louis.

The threat across the region Sunday also included possible hailstorms, forecasters said.

Along with the five fatalities, 29 people suffering from cuts and bruises to serious injuries were taken to Woodward Regional Hospital, according to officials.

Woodward City Manager Alan Riffel said the twister knocked out a transmitter that should have sent out warning sirens.

"Most people were in bed and without warning, it came through," Riffel said.

Officials are still searching for bodies.

"We've had a fatality number of five and we don't expect to find more, but we're not stopping the search now," Riffel said.

From Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, there were more than 120 reports of tornadoes since Saturday.

Residents were warned this weekend about the outbreak of violent weather, which forecasters predicted as potentially "life-threatening."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Forecasters Warn of Violent,' Life-Threatening' Storms for Midwest

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Midwest is bracing itself for an outbreak of violent weather Saturday that could be "life-threatening," according to forecasters.

Baseball-sized hail and damaging 70 mph winds are expected to whip through a handful of states.

A warning was issued Friday for parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Oklahoma and Kansas are expected to be the hardest hit, according to a rare high risk warning issued Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center.

Paul Walker, an Accuweather senior meteorologist, told ABC News that a warning two days in advance of a storm was unusual and cautioned that the weekend "should be particularly dangerous."

Oklahoma had its first brush with the severe weekend weather on Friday when at least one tornado ripped through the town of Norman, where the University of Oklahoma is located, leaving 19 people hurt with "bumps and bruises" and a trail of property damage.

One patient was hospitalized and in fair condition Friday, said Norman Regional Hospital spokesperson Kelly Wells.

Residents began assessing the damage today before preparing for another day of wild weather. A brick storefront was decimated by the storm. One resident told ABC News a woman lost the roof on her house.

"Fortunately, the portion of the roof that's left is right over our bedroom. I mean, it was there and gone before we could even get out of bed," she said.

The National Weather Service is urging residents in the danger zone to heed its strongly-worded warning.

The storm system was moving toward the Rockies and energizing a warm, moist flow of air from the Gulf of Mexico, according to Accuweather.

Those conditions, plus differing wind directions in the atmosphere and on the surface, will increase the likelihood of tornado-spawning storms today, Accuweather senior meteorologist Paul Walker said.

“All the pieces of the pie are coming together to make a particularly dangerous situation.”

California also dealt with severe weather on Friday when thunderstorms, hail and fierce winds pummeled parts of the state.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Midwest Warned of Severe Storms, Tornadoes This Weekend

NOAA/Storm Prediction Center (WASHINGTON) -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center issued a rare "high risk" alert on Friday, warning of the potential for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes across Midwestern states over the weekend.

The biggest threat is to Oklahoma and Kansas, but states as far north as Nebraska and as far south as Texas could also be in danger.  The storms are expected to intensify Saturday afternoon into the evening, when a tornado outbreak is likely to occur.

The storm system in question is currently moving through California, where it is bringing hail and lightning to San Francisco and Sacramento, and three feet of snow to the mountains.

The last time the Storm Prediction Center issued such a high risk this far in advance was in April 2011, ahead of a tornado outbreak in Alabama that killed over 300 people and produced billions of dollars in damage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tornado-Ravaged States Face Exploitation of Destruction

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As if digging out of the rubble of deadly tornadoes were not enough of a challenge, Midwest residents and cleanup crews now have to work around people trying to exploit the destruction.

Such opportunists come in many forms, including looters, tornado tourists, fraudulent charities and contractors looking to capitalize.

"Unfortunately, it's that way and it's been that way," Albert Hale, emergency manager for Laurel County, Ky., said.  "It's a part of society."

Officials stopped a vehicle that had a large amount of copper in it, Hale said, adding that authorities have prevented wide-scale looting with heightened police presence.  But not all places have been exempt from stealing.

Sherman Sykes, 70, was grilling a hamburger at Budroe's Family Restaurant, which he owns with his partner of 32 years, Maureen Williams, when he heard the warning for all residents of Henryville, Ind., to take cover.

Before Sykes went to take cover in the basement, he saw a yellow school bus from the high school across the street get sucked into the air and pulled toward the restaurant.  It slammed into the restaurant's parking lot and flipped over before Sykes rushed to the basement.

All nine customers as well as Sykes and his family were uninjured, but he is missing the restaurant's money bag they were preparing to deposit and several shipments of food products that had been delivered that morning.

Sykes said he did not want to accuse anyone of stealing and that the items could have been swept away in the tornado, but it is likely that they were stolen.

Hale said a more prevalent problem has been tornado tourists and others looking to get a glimpse of the destruction.

"Everyone wants to go see the devastation.  'If I'm not affected, I want to go see what happened to you.'  They're being nosy," Hale said.  "We've taken issue with that."

Local law enforcement, Kentucky State Police and the National Guard, in addition to other agencies, have created checkpoints to prevent curious photographers and out-of-towners from interfering with cleanup or even risking injury.

"Another large problem is contractors kind of freelancing and wanting to get in the neighborhood to go door-to-door to see if they could get any work," Grant County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Maines said, speaking about Crittenden, Ky.

Officials don't want these potential hustlers "knocking on doors as people are trying to pick up their belongings and figure out what happened," he added.

Amid all the loss, many people near and far are looking for ways to give back, but being cautioned that disasters often give way for fraudulent charities to attempt to take advantage of people.

"Givers should take steps to assure themselves that their donations will go to legitimate and reputable charities and relief efforts that have the capability to help victims," the Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance said in a statement.

Officials advise potential donors to verify the charity's accountability, as well as to learn how and when they will be using the donations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tornado Devastation: How to Help

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A deadly string of tornados that ripped through the South and Midwest turned tightly knit rural communities into apocalyptic war zones, left dozens of people dead in five states and thousands homeless.

Schools were reduced to rubble, businesses were destroyed and families were left homeless by the disaster.

If you want to help, here is a list of organizations that are conducting relief efforts:


Make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.


Donations can be made online, or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by texting the word "STORM" to 80888 to make a $10 donation by phone. Or by mail: The Salvation Army Disaster Relief P.O. Box 100339 Atlanta, Ga. 30384-0339


When you donate to Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, every dollar helps provide eight meals to families struggling with hunger. Feeding America can be reached at (800) 771-2303 (National Office) or online.


National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is the primary point of contact for voluntary organization in the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA headquarters. They also provide assistance to disaster victims as well as those looking to help.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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