Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms have swept through the Midwest on Sunday. Four people are believed dead at this time and there are numerous neighborhoods which have been flattened. Now firefighters and first responders are beginning to go through the rubble to search for anyone who may be trapped in any of the debris.
Washington, IL has been hit extremely hard. It is located in the middle of the state. It appears to be completely wiped out. Authorities from the town have sent out calls for doctors and nurses from neighboring areas to come to Washington to offer aid after the tornado went through around the middle of the day.
One Washington resident stated that he heard the tornado coming when he stepped outside his house. He said his daughter was already in the basement of his house, so he went downstairs and grabbed her. They went to the laundry room when they crouched down. He then said he could see daylight up the stairway and he realized his home had disappeared.
Melanie Arnold who works with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency stated that she knew of at least one individual from Washington being killed by the tornado, but she did not have any specifics over the victim.
The Washington County coroner from southern Illinois stated an elderly woman and her brother died when a tornado smashed into their farm house in the town of New Minden, IL which is located around 50 miles southeast of St. Louis, MO.
When afternoon had arrived, it was still unclear just how many people had been injured. The Illinois National Guard reported that it had sent out 10 firefighters and three vehicles to the Washington area to assist with the tornado damage in the area and to do immediate search and recovery operations.
Steve Brewer, who is the COO of a medical center in Peoria, IL, stated that around five individuals had arrived at the hospital wanting medical treatment. However, he said that their injuries were fairly minor. There was another hospital in the region which received nearly 15 patients, but the extent of their injuries was not known.
Any type of communication around the area is spotty at best and so it is difficult to get any information from the scene at the present time. It has been an extremely dangerous situation, stated, stated Russell Schneider, who is a director of a weather services prediction program. There have been over 52 million people that were at risk for thunderstorms and tornadoes today. Some still are this evening.
In the city of Chicago, storms blew through downtown so violently that the streams coming down were not falling so much as they were smashing into the sides of structures. But there were no confirmed injury reports. The hefty rain amount postponed the Chicago Bears-Baltimore Ravens game for about two hours while the fans emptied the stands.
Weather officials established the fact that a tornado also touched ground about 11 a.m. CST near the middle Illinois town of East Peoria. Police did not have any injury or damage reports for this city. It was just about an hour later that the tornado had moved on. There were new storms hitting other towns such as Washington, Morton, Metamora and other communities. It is unknown, however, if the same tornado hit all these cities or if different super cells were responsible for doing the damage.
The tornado/tornadoes were moving at a speed of at least 60 mph, which officials said would not give individuals enough time to get to shelter if they were relying on just watching the sky without any other type information. The possible severity of such storms so late in the season also carried the element of surprise.
Portions of Illinois, Indiana, lower Michigan and western Ohio were at the highest risk of seeing the tornadoes. Numerous storms became tornadoes accompanied by large hail and damaging winds.
Indiana did not have the severity that Illinois experienced but it did have quite a bit of trouble. Several people were hurt and tornadoes caused extensive damage.
12 counties informed authorities that either storm damage or tornadoes had went across the entire Hoosier state.
Kokomo, IN police told citizens to stay in their home and off of the streets after Kokomo city representatives declared the town was in a state of emergency after at least one tornado passed through.
The Kokomo police department said that buildings had roofs ripped off. There was also a bank which was destroyed.
Ohio had strong winds and the possibility for tornadoes the later it got on Sunday night.
There have been tornado warnings and watches issued for numerous counties that border the state’s western brink.
Substantial afternoon rains covered football fans that were in Cincinnati where the Bengals beat the Cleveland Browns. A few pre-game events were canceled due to the forecast.
The weather on this Sunday just goes to show that temperatures in the 80s and 90s were not required to produce severe weather since the robust winds compensated for the missing heat. This set up a weather pattern for what was called wind shear. That, in turn, was what caused the tornadoes this Sunday.
Tornadoes have swept through the Midwest and it has been an awful day for anyone living in the Midwest and Ohio Valley.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Weather Channel