Four days after a deadly tornado outbreak destroyed a number of communities across the Midwest and South, a new severe weather system spawned nearly a dozen more tornado reports and dumped softball-sized hailstones to storm-weary locations. At least five people were killed and many more injured in the pre-dawn storms, and AccuWeather forecasters warn that the dangerous storms will persist through the end of the week.
An early-morning “damaging tornado” in southeastern Missouri was confirmed by the National Weather Service (NWS) just before 4 a.m. CDT. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had reiterated the powerful language from the NWS, warning that a “strong tornado” with a rating of EF2 or EF3 was on the ground and urged residents to seek shelter.
Bollinger County Sheriff Casey A. Graham confirmed at least five people died in the Glenallen area as the destructive tornado tore through the southeastern part of the state. Their identities have not yet been released. The number of those injured or missing also was not released as state police assisted county and several local emergency agencies in search and rescue efforts.
Storm chaser Brandon Clement shared photos of homes severely damaged from the storm, but it wasn’t until daylight that the sheer power of the tornado became clear. In a drone video shared by Clement, the widespread and extensive destruction was shocking. In Glenallen, located east of the Illionois-Missouri state line, several homes were missing roofs, large trees were uprooted and strewn about, and mobile homes and cars were overturned.
Among the damaged buildings was the Glenallen fire station. Photos shared on Twitter show the building that housed the fire trucks in shambles.
“The damage is pretty widespread. It’s just heartbreaking to see it,” Sgt. Clark Parrott, of the Highway Patrol, told The Associated Press.
The severe weather ignited early Tuesday as it moved across the Midwest, triggering multiple tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and large hail.
The NWS confirmed an EF2 tornado had briefly touched down in Colona, Illinois, on Tuesday morning, causing damage in the city near the Illinois-Iowa border. A storm survey determined that the twister had estimated maximum wind speeds of 120 mph.
Damage in the city included a roof being torn off a gas station, along with a wall collapse. Two people were able to safely exit the station in time, with no injuries reported.
And to the northwest, storm chaser Aaron Jayjack captured video of a large, destructive rope tornado that tore through Pleasantville, Iowa, which is approximately 35 miles southeast of Des Moines, during Tuesday’s storms.
“Oh my god, it’s violent!” Jayjack can be heard shouting in the video as the twister tore through an open field, kicking up dust and debris.
At one point, the tornado appeared to cross the road ahead of Jayjack, and a spark of electricity could be seen through the debris as the twister passed over power lines.
The SPC lists 10 preliminary tornado reports for Tuesday, two of which were from Iowa. The one near Pleasantville was noted to have tracked near the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 92.
Large hail was reported across the Midwest as the storms got underway on Tuesday afternoon. Near the Illinois-Iowa border, in Davenport, Iowa, 4-inch-diameter hail — roughly the size of a softball — was reported.
Roughly 170 miles southwest of Davenport, hail 3.25 inches in diameter was reported in Newark, Missouri. Other large hail reports were found in Oswego, Illinois, and Sturgeon, Missouri. Earlier Tuesday, several Chicago suburbs were pelted with hailstones ranging from the size of quarters to golf balls.
Storm chaser Aaron Rigsby shared a video on Twitter of the hail damage his storm-chasing vehicle endured during the intense storms. Two large cracks were seen on his windshield, and several dents could be seen on the hood of his car.
In addition to twisters and large hail, the severe storms packed strong wind gusts. In Iowa, the Quad-City Airport measured a wind gust of 90 mph as the storms moved through Tuesday morning.
As storms neared Chicago on Wednesday morning, a wind gust over 50 mph was measured in north-central Illinois as a “whale’s mouth” cloud formation moved over the city.
The windy, unsettled weather prompted significant delays for air travelers. On Tuesday, over 960 flights were delayed, and another 160 were canceled at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, according to FlightAware. By Wednesday morning, the number of canceled flights at O’Hare had already eclipsed 100, and delays had surpassed 200.
AccuWeather forecasters expect the number of canceled flights to soar to 700 across the country as severe weather continues to persist across the country through the second half of the week.
As portions of the Midwest faced another round of severe weather, states in the northern Plains to the Upper Midwest experienced blizzard conditions from the wintry side of the storm. Upwards of 67 inches of snow was reported this week as the storm spread snow from Utah to Wisconsin.
In North Dakota, crews worked around the clock to clear roadways across the state. Due to snow and blizzard conditions, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) closed several highways and roads on Tuesday night.
By Wednesday morning, the agency had no timeline for reopening roads.
In South Dakota, a tractor-trailer slid off Interstate 29 near the New Effington exit due to “inability to see the road,” according to the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
The agency shared a photo of the semi that slid off the highway on Twitter, noting that the snow on the side of the interstate was piled up to the truck’s door.
In South Dakota, a tractor-trailer slid off Interstate 29 near the New Effington exit due to “inability to see the road,” the South Dakota Highway Patrol said.
Troopers in South Dakota were also busy Wednesday morning responding to crashes across the state. Snow was creating a mess on the roadways, and where it wasn’t snowing, ice was creating slick conditions for many. The South Dakota High Patrol urged residents to use caution when traveling.
Dozens of schools in South Dakota were closed due to the winter weather on Tuesday. Additionally, state executive branch offices were ordered closed.
Alta, Utah, a town located near Salt Lake City that sits at an elevation of 8,500 feet above sea level, measured the largest snowfall total from this storm, with 67 inches of snow reported as of Wednesday morning, according to the NWS.
Snowfall totals in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana all surpassed the 2-foot mark. In Hot Springs, South Dakota, located south of Rapid City, 30 inches fell, according to the NWS snowfall reports.
In Casper, Wyoming, the daily snowfall record was broken on Monday when 26.7 inches of snow fell. This also was the all-time daily snowfall record for any day of the year. The previous record was 24.3 inches, which was set on Dec. 24, 1982.
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