Thunderstorms Slam Midwest – Threaten Tornadoes, Damaging Hail

Residents of the Midwest are being warned that thunderstorms moving into the region could be severe. These storms could bring with them large damaging hail stones, wind gusts of up to 90 miles per hour and tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. The NWS is warning people in the Midwest to prepare to take cover in case tornado warnings are issued. There were tornado watches and warnings already issued Tuesday night in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

Rainfall from these storms could total anywhere from 1 to 4 inches in many parts of the Midwest which poses a real threat for flash flooding. Heavy rainfall and baseball-sized hail pummeled parts of Nebraska and Iowa Tuesday night. The NWS said that there were numerous reports of extensive hail damage and flooding coming in from Iowa and Nebraska where wind speeds of 85 miles per hour were recorded.

Tornado spotters reported twisters in central and southwest Iowa Tuesday evening and at least one report of a tornado came in from southwestern Kansas. These reports will not be confirmed until damages are assessed early Wednesday morning.

Dozens of people had to be evacuated from low-lying homes in the city of Omaha, NE. One of Omaha’s airports was closed down Tuesday evening for several hours due to severe weather and flooding. The homes that were evacuated in Omaha were filling up with water in the basements which prompted rescuers to pull some people out including one wheelchair-bound elderly woman. Rescue personnel had to use boats to help dozens of drivers stranded in floodwater around the city of Omaha. Many of those vehicles remain in place, stranded on flooded area roadways.

Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for Pottawattamie County in the western portion of his state, allowing officials to use state resources to help them respond to the damages done by the storms. In two cities in Nebraska, large hail stones broke out windows in homes and vehicles as the severe weather moved through. Over two dozen vehicles in the western Iowa community of Council Bluff had their windshields shattered by hail. Some of those vehicles were being driven at the time, forcing their drivers to pull over.

The National Weather Service cautioned Tuesday night that a potential derecho will develop in the Midwest. A derecho is a self-sustaining complex of thunderstorms that can produce extensive, straight-line wind damage powerful enough to knock down trees and powerlines. In 2012, an intensive derecho ripped through the Ohio Valley and strongly impacted the Washington DC area, leaving over one million residents without electricity.

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