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Entries in Midwest (26)

Friday
Mar022012

Tornado Threat Looms Large in Storm-Rattled Midwest and South

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Stronger twisters and extreme weather are expected Friday to again hit the Midwest and South. Earlier this week, 33 confirmed tornadoes left 13 people dead.

A large area of the country, stretching from the Ohio Valley into the deep South, is under threat of severe weather Friday morning.  Though it was relatively quiet overnight, the first storms could pop up around daybreak in the St. Louis area, according to Rich Thompson, lead forecaster with the National Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

The National Weather Service has indicated a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms for the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.  These storms are capable of producing winds of 75 miles per hour, large hail and long-lived significant tornadoes, according to the NWS.

"That area centered on Tennessee and especially Kentucky looks like it has the potential for some rather long track, what we call super cell storms or tornadoes along and ahead of a cold front," Thompson said.

"And if that actually occurs this would be the type of scenario where we could have some fairly strong longtrack tornadoes," he added.  "Today actually has the potential to cause even more problems than just two days ago."

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Meanwhile, authorities in a wide swath of the Midwest continued on Thursday to look for more tornado victims.  Over 300 reports of severe weather in the last 36 hours included golf ball-size hail and damaging thunderstorm winds gusting over 80 mph.

Residents across the seven states where tornadoes touched down over this week -- Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and Tennessee -- are also digging out and sharing their stories of surviving the storms that included an EF4 -- the second-highest rating given to twisters, which can see peak winds of 170 mph.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar012012

At Least a Dozen Confirmed Dead in Midwest Tornado Aftermath

Scott Olson/Getty Images(HARRISBURG, Ill.) -- At least 12 people are dead after a series of tornadoes blew through the Midwest earlier this week, according to authorities, and the death toll is expected to rise.

The extensive damage caused by the storms in at least five states is only beginning to become clear.  The tornadoes touched down across Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center said.

At least six people -- four women and two men -- were killed in the town of Harrisburg, Ill., according to Lt. Tracy Felty of the Saline County Sheriff's Office.  The tornado hit Harrisburg, 50 miles southwest of Evansville, Ind., around 5 a.m., leveling a wide swath of homes and other buildings.

The National Weather Service said the twister was about 200 yards wide and ranked as an EF4 -- the second-highest rating given to twisters -- with peak winds of 170 mph.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Gregg said that the city was in "search and recovery mode."

"We have devastation in our community like we've never seen," he said.  "We are doing everything we can to protect this community. ... That is our mission.  That is our task now."

Sheriffs' officials earlier estimated the number of people killed in the 9,000-resident town to be as high as 10, but later said that number was incorrect.  An estimated 100 people were injured in the storm, officials said.

The physical damage in Harrisburg was said to be extensive, with power lines down and as many as 300 homes and 25 businesses damaged or destroyed, according to officials at the sheriff's office.

Schools in Harrisburg were canceled and officials asked non-residents to stay away, according to local ABC News affiliate WSIL-TV.

Another confirmed death came in Missouri, where the entertainment destination of Branson, Mo., was hit hard by the storms.

Local ABC News affiliate KMB-TV reported windows were blown out of the Hilton Convention Center in Branson and 32 people were treated for injuries in at least one local hospital.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon issued a state of emergency order Wednesday morning and shelters for displaced residents were opened throughout the state.

The small town of Harveyville in Kansas was also hit hard by a tornado that touched down just after 9 p.m. local time Tuesday.

"The town was taken out by about 40 percent of the buildings in the community," Sharon Watson, director of public affairs for the Kansas Adjutant General's Office told ABC News.  "A significant amount of it has been destroyed.  A lot of homes damaged, a lot of buildings down including a church and an apartment complex."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback also declared a state of emergency after the storm hit and caused highway closings and downed power lines throughout the area.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb292012

Tornado-Like Storms Slam Midwest

Comstock/Thinkstock (file photo)(BRANSON, Mo.) -- The Midwest is recovering from tornado-like storms that blew through Nebraska and Missouri Tuesday before touching down in Kansas, killing at least one person and causing extensive damage. The town of Branson, Mo., was hit hard by the storms.

A possible tornado that blew through a mobile home park outside of Buffalo, Mo., killed one person and injured 13 others, Dallas County Sheriff’s Office officials confirmed.

The final casualty count in the tourist destination of Branson still remains to be seen as sheriff officers there move from house to house to search for victims.

In Kansas, the small town of Harveyville, just south of Topeka, was hit especially hard by a tornado that touched down just after 9 p.m.

“The town was taken out by about 40 percent of the buildings in the community,” Sharon Watson, director of public affairs for the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office told ABC News.  “A significant amount of it has been destroyed a lot of homes damaged, a lot of buildings down including a church and an apartment complex.”

Officials also say that one person who was trapped in a building had to be extricated from underneath debris and was taken to an area hospital in critical condition.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency after the storm, which also closed highways and struck down power lines throughout the area.

The National Weather Service also reported lesser force tornadoes occurred elsewhere in the state, touching down southwest of the town of Hutchinson.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Midwest Continues to Bake as Heat Wave Moves East

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A dangerous heat wave continues to hover over the central part of the U.S. and is expected to spread eastward over the next few days. Forecasters say the scorching temps will be sticking around well into next week.

Heat index values in the Midwest are expected to stay planted in the triple digits, making it feel like at least 100 degrees and higher throughout the afternoon Monday.

Minneapolis will feel like it's 118 degrees; the average temperature for this time in July is in the mid-80s.

The oppressive heat has caused many problems for people who live in places that don't normally record such high temperatures.

The rising mercury coupled with the stifling humidity has sent six people to the hospital in Iowa; the top recorded temperature in that state reached 99 degrees on Sunday in Council Bluffs. The average temperature for this time of year is 88 degrees.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the state, authorities say two homes got so hot their smoke detectors were tripped, triggering false alarms.

Asphalt at a major intersection in western Oklahoma buckled on Saturday night from the intense heat -- temperatures there have reached 100 degrees or higher 27 times already this year.

The heat is also affecting local wildlife in Texas. Researchers found that many does are unable to carry fawns to term in this weather, causing premature births.

Government officials and business owners are doing what they can to help people keep cool.

City officials have opened cooling centers in Chicago, where temperatures are expected to hit 105 degrees. Cooling centers have also been opened in Detroit to help residents who don't have air conditioning in their homes.

Seventeen states from Texas to Michigan have reported heat advisories and warnings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May272011

Tornadoes Caused by Military? Recent Events Fuel Conspiracy Theories

Julie Denesha/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's an astonishing claim: The tornado that ravaged Joplin, Missouri last Sunday, killing at least 125 people, was not a random act of nature but the result of an obscure military-backed research program in Alaska that shoots radio waves into the upper atmosphere.

Here's another one: The shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona last January that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was an elaborate government hoax that used actors to portray the victims.

And there is this: Osama bin Laden is still alive, and the raid in which daring Navy SEALs shot him dead was fabricated to improve President Obama's chances of winning re-election.

These are three of the bogus new conspiracy theories flying across the Internet, advanced by believers who insist the evidence to support them could not be any clearer.

"Don't know about the rest of you, but I'm telling everyone I know and don't know (sales clerks, bank tellers, waiters, etc.) about the weather manipulation," a YouTube poster named "thegreenieye" wrote, responding to a video that claims last month's devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama also was caused by the atmospheric research in Alaska.

"99.5 [percent] of people are completely unaware of this," thegreenieye wrote.  "Tell everyone you know (and don't know) about it.  The masses need to be informed!"

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, run by the University of Alaska and supported by the Navy and Air Force, shoots radio waves into the upper atmosphere to study how those waves are affected and develop better communications technologies.  But conspiracy theorists see it as some kind of doomsday device causing havoc across the planet.

Experts say the idea that the research could cause a rain shower, let alone a tornado or an earthquake, is ridiculous.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Tornado Season Close to Being Deadliest on Record

Comstock/Thinkstock(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- Mother Nature’s wrath continued unabated in the nation’s midsection Wednesday as the region was again hammered by a series of tornadoes that rolled across five states, including already hard-hit Missouri.

Even before these latest severe weather events, residents in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas were picking up the pieces from twisters that devastated areas Tuesday evening and early Wednesday, killing at least 14 people. 

Oklahoma City was particularly hard hit with eight deaths, including a 15-month-old toddler, and more than 70 people injured.

Wednesday’s unpredictable weather caused hundreds of flight delays and cancellations at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport when a twister touched down about 60 miles south of the city in Kankakee County.

Forecasters believe this could be the deadliest tornado season on record, with the death toll already close to 500.  In 1953, there were 519 deaths reported in the Midwest and South.

So far, officials in Joplin, Missouri have counted 125 fatalities, with that number expected to rise as the recovery efforts continue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Midwest Rattled by Tornadoes; Joplin Braces for Second Hit

Julie Denesha/Getty Images(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- The death toll from the latest severe weather in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas rose past a dozen early Wednesday morning, while the National Weather Service reports that a tornado has "destroyed the full town" of Denning, Arkansas, killing three in the town which had a population of approximately 270.

Over large stretches of the Midwest, including the ravaged city of Joplin, Missouri, residents braced for a new wave of severe weather early Wednesday.

Meanwhile, rescue workers in Joplin continued the search for survivors in the rubble left by Sunday's massive EF-5 tornado that has left at least 124 in the city dead and leveled at least 30 percent of the town of approximately 50,000.

The giant storm tore across the Midwest Tuesday, producing multiple tornadoes -- a total of 36 in seven states -- and baseball-sized hail.

AccuWeather confirmed that a tornado moved through Denning, Arkansas, which sits about 160 miles south of Joplin, early Wednesday.

Meteorologist John Dlugoenski of AccuWeather described it as a "large wedge tornado."  These types of tornadoes, he reports, cause the most damage because of their width.  The NWS reports that the tornado was up to a mile wide right before it hit Denning.

The tornado that hit Denning is part of the same storm system that tore through Joplin on Sunday.

"It was on the ground for quite a while, probably something approaching 20 miles on the ground.  And for what we could see on radar, we would believe it was large.  It was probably somewhere on the order of a half mile to maybe even a mile wide at times," Steve Piltz, a forecaster with the NWS in Tulsa, Oklahoma said Wednesday.

Severe weather has also been spotted in very densely populated areas in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The NWS reported a large wide wedge tornado just southeast of Dallas in Hutchins, Texas at approximately 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.  Flights were grounded in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and local news reported passengers were pulled off of planes on the tarmac.

Throughout Wednesday severe weather will continue throughout the Midwest, with the greatest risk for tornadoes from Little Rock, Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee, and in Paducah, Kentucky; St. Louis, Missouri; Peoria, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May242011

Obama Plans Midwest Visit as Region Braces for More Storms

Julie Denesha/Getty Images(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- President Obama said Tuesday morning that he will visit the tornado-ravaged city of Joplin, Missouri this weekend, after he completes his tour of Europe.

Speaking from London, where he and Michelle Obama arrived earlier Tuesday, Obama called the outbreak of tornadoes "devastating and heartbreaking" while he reassured those affected by the storms that "every ounce of resources the federal government may have" will be used in recovery efforts.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are suffering at this moment," Obama said, announcing his Sunday visit to the region.  "And all we can do is let them know that all of America cares deeply about them and that we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover."

Obama also acknowledged that more storms are headed for the region Tuesday, as a warning of new tornado outbreaks was issued for the central region of the United States early Tuesday by an Oklahoma storm prediction center.

The greatest threat for tornadoes stretches from Dallas to Kansas City, according to the report.  The area includes the city of Joplin, Missouri, where rescue workers are racing to find survivors from the wreckage left by a tornado that destroyed an estimated 30 percent of the city on Sunday.

The death toll from the monster tornado that ripped through Joplin soared to 117 on Tuesday, making it the deadliest single tornado in nearly 60 years, according to federal records.  Another 600 people were injured in the storm.

The massive Joplin tornado was rated as an EF-4, the second-strongest classification with winds ranging between 166 and 200 mph.  The nearly mile-wide funnel touched down at 5:41 p.m. CT Sunday and blasted a six mile wide path through the city, leaving trapped survivors crying out for help.

Rescuers shifted through the rubble of six miles of debris and over 2,000 damaged buildings on Monday, looking for survivors as high winds and hail continue to lash the area.

As of approximately nightfall Monday, 17 people had been pulled alive from the wreckage, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Dozens Feared Dead as Tornadoes Tear Across Midwest

ABC News' Sam Champion in Joplin, Missouri. ABC News(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- Fierce storms ripped through several Midwestern states, and officials have confirmed that at least 89 people are dead while an unknown number are injured and trapped after a nearly one mile wide, three-mile long tornado slammed Joplin, Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Sunday evening and activated the Missouri National Guard in response to the destruction the storm left in its wake.

In Joplin, St. John's Regional Medical Center was fully evacuated after it took a direct hit from the tornado, and seven people have been reported dead at a local nursing home, according to police reports.  In the city of about 50,000 people, which sits 160 miles south of Kansas City, the tornado was reported to be one mile wide, while winds of nearly 200 miles per hour ravaged residents.

State and local law enforcement agencies, including fire mutual aid, are coordinating search and rescue operations.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol sent troopers from other regions to help local officers in southern Missouri deal with the destruction, according to a statement from Nixon's office.

Authorities estimate that 25 to 30 percent of Joplin has been damaged by the tornado, with very populated areas having been hit by the storm.

Cries could be heard early Monday morning from people trapped below the wreckage, while crews have been pulling out bodies and lining them up in the streets for loved ones to identify, according to ABC News affiliate KODE-TV in Joplin.

There is now fear of gas explosions in the storm's aftermath, and authorities are telling people not to light any cigarettes because so many gas pipes are broken, KODE-TV reports.

In total, 70 tornadoes were produced by the storm system since Friday, including at least 47 tornadoes on Sunday.  Tornadoes were reported in seven states from the Canadian border to Oklahoma.  Warnings and watches were posted from Texas to Michigan.

President Obama released a statement on the emergency late Sunday night, in which Obama said "Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri as well as communities across the Midwest today. We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time."

The president also addressed the government's response, saying, "At my direction, FEMA is working with the affected areas' state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts, and the federal government stands ready to help our fellow Americans as needed," he added.

Earlier Sunday, tornadoes had torn across other parts of the region, killing at least one person in Minneapolis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May222011

Tornadoes Dismantle Midwest, One Person Killed

Comstock/Thinkstock (File)(READING, Kan.) -- Midwest residents are cleaning up this morning after several tornadoes Saturday left one man dead and one Kansas town nearly destroyed.

At least 20 tornadoes were reported across three states: 14 in Kansas, 5 in Oklahoma, and 1 in Missouri.

In the small town of Reading, Kansas twisters ripped through the area and left more than 20 homes destroyed and 200 more damaged.

"Lots of damage all over town, the farther south in town the more damage there is. Lots of trees down, large trees, there's buildings that have been totally devastated," said Coffee County Emergency Coordinator Russel Stukey.

One fatality and several injuries were reported in connection with the twisters, according to authorities.

"Everything is destroyed. We're going to have to stay strong for the community," one resident told Kansas City ABC News affiliate KMBC.

Power was knocked out Saturday and roads in and out of area were closed, KMBC reported.

According to Sharon Watson with the Kansas State Division of Emergency Management there was also baseball-size hail reported throughout the northeast part of the state.

"We've been fortunate so far to not have as much damage as we have seen in the past, such as the year 2007 when the town of Greensburg was basically destroyed, a town of 1,500," Watson said.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for at least 16 counties.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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