Storm system that killed 3 in Midwest rumbles eastward
Apparent tornadoes damage homes and uproot trees.
A springlike storm system spawned tornadoes that destroyed more than 100 homes and killed three people in the central U.S. before it rumbled east- ward Wednesday, putting about 95 million people in its path, forecasters said.
The compact but strong storms, known as supercells, moved into the region on Tuesday and raked parts of Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri before moving into Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Forecasters with the Storm Prediction Center said the storm system appeared headed toward the mid-At- lantic states and southern New England, and that New York, Philadelphia, Balti- more, Atlanta and Washing- ton, D.C., could be affected.
The National Weather Ser- vice Storm Prediction Cen- ter in Norman, Oklahoma, received about two dozen reports of possible tornadoes late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Warning coor- dination meteorologist Patrick Marsh said crews are still determining if damage was from tornadoes or straightline winds, and how many twisters touched down.
Marsh said a strong storm system moved from the Mountain West and collided with warm and humid air in the central U.S., which has enjoyed an unusually warm winter and where temperatures Tuesday were well into the 70s in many places.
“That’s why we saw storms more representative of late March and April,” Marsh said. “The atmosphere doesn’t care what the calendar says.”
In Illinois, an uprooted tree kil l ed 76-year-old man, Wayne Tuntland, in Ottawa, which is 70 miles southwest of Chicago. More than a dozen people in the area were injured during the storm. In the small com- munity of Naplate, next to Ottawa, about a quarter of the roughly 200 homes were damaged, Fire Chief John Nevins said. Gov. Bruce Rauner toured the area Wednesday.
Debbie Loughridge, 61, of Naplate rode out the storm with her son in the bathtub of their rented house. Firefighters helped them out of the home, which lost much of its roof.
“He heard the freight train sound and said ‘Here it comes,’” Loughridge said. “All I heard was the wind and the breaking glass. Like an explosion of glass.”
About 225 miles south of Ottawa, near Crossville, Illinois, an apparent tornado struck a building near a house, killing a 71-year-old man and injuring his wife, White County Coroner Chris Marsh said.
In Missouri, several vehicles were blown off of Interstate 55 near Perryville, 65 miles southeast of St. Louis. A 24-year-old man from Perryville was ejected and died, Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Juston Wheetley said. The wind was so strong that it lifted crumpled cars from a nearby salvage yard and tossed them along the highway.