Wind, Snow and Possible Tornadoes in the Midwest Wednesday

A winter storm warning or blizzard warning was in effect for parts of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas through Wednesday afternoon and evening in some places. Tornadoes and high winds could rake parts of the Midwest on Wednesday afternoon as well. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph were expected, with gust up to 55 or even 60 mph.

The National Weather Service issued tornado watches for most of the day in parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.

Wet, heavy snow fell in Nevada on Tuesday morning, closing schools in Reno and knocking out power to thousands before moving eastward. Northeastern Colorado and western Kansas and Nebraska expected 6 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 60 mph overnight — a combination that can cause white-out conditions.

“November has a history of producing some significant weather events. We will have to keep an eye on things,” said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center.

The Storm Prediction Center cautioned 54 million people to be alert for severe weather.

Two Killed In Midwest Tornado Outbreak

Tornadoes ripped through the Midwest Thursday leaving two women dead in the small Illinois town of Fairdale.

Geradine Schultz, 67, and Jacqueline Klosa, 69, were confirmed as fatalities by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Rockford Fire Department division chief Matthew Knott told NBC Chicago the town was “absolutely devastated” by the tornado.  Knott said of the 75 homes in the town, 17 were completely destroyed and no home was spared significant damage.

At least seventeen tornadoes were confirmed in the outbreak and weather officials are investigating others.  One tornado left a 22-mile path through Ogle County according to disaster management coordinator Tom Richter.

That twister destroyed the home of Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle.  Fortunately, the sheriff’s family was out of town at the time of the storm.

One of the places heavily damaged by the storm was a small family-owned farm and zoo in Belvidere.  The Sommerfield Zoo lost two emus and a fawn.    Sheds, barns and other structures were destroyed including a $20,000 set of fencing.

“It’s amazing that’s all we lost. We’re very fortunate,” owner Tammy Anderson told the Chicago Tribune. “We’re just overwhelmed. I’m not sure where to start.”

Dual Tornadoes Destroy Nebraska Town

Two people, including a 5-year-old child, are dead after a pair of tornadoes ripped through a small Nebraska town.

Officials say the town of Pilger, Nebraska was obliterated when a pair of tornadoes about a mile apart struck the town.  The National Storm Prediction Center said that the twisters appeared to be EF-2 or EF-3 with maximum cyclonic winds of 165 miles per hour.

“Pilger is gone,” Sanford Goshorn, Stanton County Director of Emergency Management told Reuters.  “The tornado cut right through the center of town.”  He said all the services to the town from electricity to water were gone.  The entire community was evacuated under order of emergency management officials.

A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Omaha said that two powerful tornadoes on the ground at the same time in the same location is very rare.  The Storm Prediction Center said they recorded at least four tornadoes touching down in the area of the deadly supercell.

Area hospitals reported at least 16 people were hospitalized in critical condition.

Blizzards In Rockies; Tornadoes In Midwest

A surprisingly strong storm caused over 25 tornadoes to touch down in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Indiana according to local officials and the National Weather Service.

One twister that struck Sutton, Nebraska blew the roof off City Hall and completely destroyed at least one farm outside of the town.  Police Chief Tracey Landenberger said it was so dark that you couldn’t see anything.  Chief Landenberger suffered minor injuries by flying glass.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency after a tornado destroyed or damaged up to 300 homes in Orrick, Missouri, about 30 miles east of Kansas City.

The tornadoes had to share the weather news day with a freak winter storm in the Rocky Mountains.

The National Weather Service issued multiple Winter Storm Warnings and said at one point high winds and blowing snow forced the closure of 150 miles of Interstate 80 in Wyoming.

Meteorologists say the storm is so slow moving that parts of Denver could get an additional 9 inches of accumulation during the day Monday and that higher elevations could receive well over a foot of new precipitation.

Tornadic Storms Kill 11 On Second Day

A tornadic storm system that killed 18 people across Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa Sunday killed an additional 11 people in the deep south on Monday.

Officials say that the storm also left tens of thousands without power from Kentucky through Georgia.

Massive damage was reported in Tupelo, Mississippi when a twister carved a two-mile long path that destroyed all the buildings in its path.  Officials estimate the tornado was likely an EF-3 but final determinations will have to be made by the National Weather Service.

Another twister struck Louisville, MS, 90 miles northeast of Jackson, MS.  The Winston Medical Center in the city sustained tornado damage and patients in the area have to be triaged on the ground.

States of emergency were put in place for Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Tornado Outbreak Kills At Least 18

A series of major tornadoes broke out across the south and Midwest Sunday night leaving at least 18 dead.

Officials in Arkansas say a tornado that at one point had a base half a mile wide ripped through Little Rock suburbs Vilonia and Mayflower.  The mayor of Vilonia told FoxNews that the tornado essentially obliterated his town’s downtown business district.

Authorities say the tornado first touched down around 7 p.m. and caused destruction along an 80-mile path.  A brand new intermediate school built with $14 million in taxpayer dollars and scheduled to open in the fall was destroyed.

“We’re probably going to have to start all over again,” Vilonia Schools Superintendent Frank Mitchell said.

Arkansas officials said that a tornado struck on Interstate 40 destroying cars and leaving tractor trailers in twisted heaps.

Another twister destroyed most of Quapaw, Oklahoma and left one person dead before turning into Kansas and destroying over 70 homes in Baxter Springs.

Giant Wall Defense Against Tornadoes Proposed

A scientist from Temple University thinks taking an idea from China is the way to stop killer tornadoes across the Midwest.

Physicist Rongjia Tao says that building massive walls in multiple spots across the Great Plains would be an effective deterrent to tornado development.

“If we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest …. one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the tornado threats in the Tornado Alley forever,” Tao told the USA Today.

The structures would be 1000 feet high and at least 150 feet wide.

Tao attributed the major tornadoes to a lack of west-to-east mountains in the region that weakens airflow.

However, many severe weather experts are skeptical.

“It wouldn’t work,” Harold Broos of the National Severe Storms Laboratory told USA Today in an e-mail.  Brooks pointed out that China receives deadly tornadoes even with their mountain ranges.  He also said that Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas have ranges similar in size to the proposal and they have massive tornadoes.

Midwestern Tornadoes Leave Six Dead

At least six people are confirmed dead after a Sunday outbreak of tornadoes across the Midwest.

The town of Washington, Illinois was devastated by a massive tornado that tore an 1/8th mile wide track through the entire town. Mayor Gary Manier said that up to 500 homes have been damaged or destroyed and that some neighborhoods are completely destroyed.

“How people survived is beyond me,” Manier said.

The tornadic storms are considered unusual for mid-November. Damaging winds and tornadoes were reported in 12 states: Michigan, Iowa, Illnois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

The storms moved so fast at times that weather forecasters were warning people to see shelter even before they could see a change in the weather.

The storm threatened the Chicago area forcing the game between the NFL’s Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens to be delayed for two hours as teams and spectators huddled under the stadium.