- A falling tree caused the death of one person.
- Four people were killed in vehicle accidents.
- Thursday morning saw power outages exceeding 500,000
High winds from a storm that rolled across the Plains of the Midwest Wednesday night are causing five deaths. The tornadoes generated wind gusts exceeding 90 mph and caused damage to homes. They also fueled wildfires, destroyed roofs and left thousands without power.
The storms brought rain and snow, hail, and severe weather to large areas of the country.
Here’s the latest news:
Bizarre December Weather Leaves Historians in Awe
Wednesday’s severe weather outbreak, widespread windstorm and unusual heat from the Rockies to the upper Midwest were so extraordinary for December that even weather experts were stunned.
Christopher Burt, a weather historian, stated that “I can confidently say that this event – the heat and tornadoes-is among the most, or even the most, anomalous meteorological events ever recorded for the upper Midwest.”
Minnesota hadn’t had a December tornado since 1950.
This is only one of many notables. Click here for more.
Death toll rises to five
According to the Associated Press, four more deaths have been linked to Wednesday’s storms. This is in addition to the one previously reported.
A 65-year old man died in Olmsted County in Minnesota after a 40-foot tree fell on his property. Three people were also killed in two separate crashes in Kansas, both caused by blinding dust whipped up by high winds.
Kansas Wildfires Cause Homes to be Evacuated
Quinter residents were advised to evacuate their homes by the Associated Press after a wildfire broke out during high winds. Don Koerperich from Sheridan County Emergency Management said the fire was not in close proximity to any large populations.
Other parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas were also affected by fires.
Iowa Truck Driver Killed
According to the AP, the driver was killed when high winds rolled his vehicle onto its side on the southbound U.S. Highway 151, eastern Iowa, Wednesday evening.
Power outages reach 500,000
As of Wednesday morning, more than half a million homes were without power in eight states. High winds in Michigan (239,000) and Wisconsin (18,000) caused the majority of those outages.
The rest of the states are in Colorado, Kansas and Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Illinois, and Minnesota.
Each power outage impacts a single customer account. That is, millions are affected by the widespread outages.
Storms Met Derecho Criteria
Derechos are large clusters with high-impact, long-lasting thunderstorms. They most often form in the late spring or summer. They cause extensive destruction to trees, power lines, and sometimes structures.
These windstorms are named after the Spanish word “straight” and cause extensive, straight-line wind damage. Extreme cases can see winds gusting up to 60 to 100 mph. They are usually produced by one or several curved lines of thunderstorms, called a bow echo (or squallline).
Although a single severe thunderstorm can produce damaging winds that are only a mile wide and a few hundred yards long, derechos can cause damage that is tens of thousands of miles in the distance. According to Walker Ashley’s 2005 study and Thomas Mote, they should cover at most 250 miles.
Click here for more information from our meteorologists on these types of storms.
Here are the highlights from Wednesday afternoon through the late-night hours:
Airport Control Tower Evacuated in Kansas City
At 5:50 PM CST, the air traffic control tower of Kansas City International Airport was evacuated.
“KCI Airport can be found at ‘Air Traffic Control (ATC) Zero‘,'” said an update on the airport’s Twitter account. “For their safety, FAA staff in tower cab evacuated. This means that there is no Air Traffic Control at the airport. There may be delays or diversions. Take 1 hour to prepare.
A follow-up tweet, at 6:36 PM CST, stated that staff had returnedTo the tower, and flights would resume when runways were cleared of debris.
Up to 100 MPH blow off roofs
Here are some notable reports from Wednesday night’s National Weather Service regarding hail, high winds and other damage:
Sterling, Nebraska: Large trees ripped from the ground, and roofs torn off of outbuildings.
Near Emporia, Kansas: Softball-size hail reported (4 inches diameter).
Near Boys Town, Nebraska: Roof torn off.
Russell, Kansas – Roof blown off; 100 mph measured gust.
Ellinwood Kansas: Roof removed.
Norton, Kansas: Partially collapsed two-story building
Pawnee, Nebraska: Structure damage, roof damage, and damage to carports.
Hampton, Nebraska: Main Street windows destroyed
Aurora, Nebraska: Stadium bleachers overturned, some structural damage.
Junction City, Kansas: Damage to hangars at Junction City Airport due to metal signs being bent or siding off buildings
Colorado Fire Department receives more than 600 calls for service
The Colorado Springs Fire Department received 635 callsfor service within five hours. Incidents ranged in severity from fires to downed powerlines and trees to roof damage – at their headquarters.
Nebraska Homes and Businesses Report Damage
Platte County is 75 miles west of Omaha and a home was damaged. Damage was also reported in Johnson County, in the southeast corner of Nebraska, and in other areas.
According to the NWS, a tornado was sighted in Platte County. There was also hail.
Omaha Tornado Sirens Heard
Wind-related Crash: Driver ejected from Car
Missouri winds caused a truck to roll over, injuring its driver and causing debris to be spread along the roadside.
Evacuations required in Texas Wildfire
High winds in Oklahoma Panhandle caused a wildfire. Guymon, Oklahoma residents were urged by the authorities to evacuate.
Tree Crushes Cars in Wichita
There were several reports of power lines and trees falling from various locations, including this one here in Wichita.
High Wind Warning Here’s how to prepare
Although high winds might not receive the same attention as hurricanes and tornadoes, they can be dangerous.
They can be caused by severe thunderstorms, strong low-pressure systems or even on a sunny day.
High winds can cause power outages, damage roofs, and even down trees in rare cases.
The National Weather Service, (NWS), issues high wind warnings and watches when these potentially destructive winds are either probable or expected.
Here are some tips for high winds.
Tree Falls at House in Denver
Another tree blocked a roadway, and residents were reminded that downed power lines should be avoided.
Home Blown Off Trailer South Dakota
A manufactured home came off its trailerHigh winds and low visibility along Highway 44 east Farmingdale
Kansas Closes Part of Interstate 70
I-70 in Western Kansas was closedAccording to the Kansas Highway Patrol: In both directions, Hays to Colorado State line
This is a distance of approximately 160 miles.
Hays is the next destination for the second wave of dust and winds. Wakeeney windows reported to be blown out,” a KHP trooper tweeted at 1:15 PM CST. “PLEASE DON’T TRAVEL UNTIL THIS EVENT PASSES!”
Airport Delays Add up
According to FlightAware, nearly 500 flights were delayed at Denver International Airport and 131 were canceled as of 12:15 p.m. MST.
Colorado: Highways shut down or restricted
Highway 50 in southeastern Colorado was closed as of about noon from Las Animas to Lamar – about 38 miles – according to the Colorado State Patrol.
All commercial vehicles traveling southbound on Interstate 25 were stopped at Monument Hill, milepost 63.
Tens of thousands of power failures
According to poweroutage.us., about 60,000 homes or businesses in areas affected by high winds were without power at 1:30 p.m. EST. The majority of them were located in Colorado (33.669), New Mexico (15.268), and Texas (11.747).
California was still experiencing around 30,000 power outages on Tuesday and overnight.
Wind blows snow, dust
Don Steerman posted a video to Twitter, claiming he was working in Lamar, Kansas, in southeastern Colorado. The scene resembled a wildfire. The skies were transformed by wind, which blew snow and dust. orange.
Similar images dustColorado Springs shared the windstorm.
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