Rare tornado rips through southern Czech Republic, killing five

By Jason Hovet

HRUSKY, Czech Republic (Reuters) -Emergency workers and residents combed through wreckage in southern Czech Republic on Friday after a tornado ripped roofs off buildings and sent cars flying through the air, killing at least five people and injuring hundreds.

The tornado, which hit towns and villages around Hodonin along the Slovak and Austrian borders on Thursday evening, may have reached windspeeds above 332 kph (206 mph), a Czech Television meteorologist said.

“It was terrible what we went through,” said Lenka Petrasova in Hrusky who recounted taking shelter with her 11-year old-son after spotting the tornado minutes before it hit. “It was unbelievable. I saw a car fly, and dogs flying.”

Firefighters searched the rubble on Friday while the army sent in a team with heavy engineering equipment to deal with the aftermath of the strongest storm in the central European nation’s modern history and its first tornado since 2018.

In the village of Hrusky with a population of 1,600, a deputy mayor estimated that a third of the houses were destroyed and many needed inspections before people could safely return.

“Part of the village is levelled, only the perimeter walls without roofs, without windows remain,” Marek Babisz told news site iDNES.

“The church has no roof, it has no tower, cars were hurled at family houses, people had nowhere to hide. The village from the church down practically ceased to exist,” he said.

South Moravia regional administration chief Jan Grolich said that five people had died in the storm, and regional hospitals treated some 150 injured while others were sent elsewhere.

Emergency crews from neighboring Poland, Austria and Slovakia fanned out across the region, 270 km (167 miles) southeast of Prague, to assist.

Officials said thousands of homes had been destroyed and appealed to people not to drive to the affected areas so rescue services could work, urging them to send donations instead.

More than 100 residents of a home for the elderly in Hodonin had to be evacuated.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis cut short his attendance at the European Council summit in Brussels to visit the area where electricity and water remained shut off in a number of villages.

Speaking on his return, Babis said the government’s priority was to tap the European Union’s solidarity fund in which around 1.3 billion euros are put aside for such situations in member countries.

“The footage I saw is absolutely catastrophic,” said Babis, who also toured damaged homes in Hrusky. “We have offers of help from across Europe and many prime ministers have approached me to offer assistance.”

Czech TV reported as many as seven small towns were “massively” damaged, citing an emergency services spokesperson.

Residents on Friday surveyed the damage.

“There used to be two rooms above this,” Mikulcice resident Pavel Netopilik said pointing to the rubble surrounding his house where the upstairs floors collapsed. “Now they are not here. The ceiling collapsed.”

(Additional reporting by Robert Muller in Prague, Writing by Michael Kahn; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Philippa Fletcher)

Thunderstorms batter Chicago area, leave thousands in the dark

(Reuters) -Severe thunderstorms tore through the Chicago area on Sunday night after the National Weather Service said a “confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” had touched down in a western suburb of the city, causing damage.

Chicago-area utility Commonwealth Edison’s (ComEd) website showed that more than 22,000 customers were without power as the thunderstorms swept through the region, near Lake Michigan in the north of the U.S. state of Illinois.

The tornado touched down near Route 53/75th Street in Woodridge, DuPage County, around 11 p.m. ET on Sunday. About a dozen homes were damaged, and four people were rushed to area hospitals with minor injuries, CBS Chicago reported.

A CBS Chicago reporter tweeted that six people were injured in total and some residents were evacuated to nearby shelters. The news outlet added that there were no fires, but there were lots of gas breaches.

Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said that anyone who was displaced from their homes could go to Ranchview Elementary School, which was designated as a place of shelter, according to CBS Chicago.

The website of ComEd, a unit of Exelon Corp, showed about 12,000 customers were without power in DuPage County alone while about 8,000 customers were in the dark in Cook County, which includes Chicago.

“The severe threat has diminished/ended for most of the Chicago metro area. Severe T-storm Watch remains in effect for a bit longer for Will, Kankakee, Ford, Iroquois, and northwest Indiana counties,” NWS Chicago said on TwitterQ.

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Mark Heinrich)

Tornado rips through Mississippi, damages buildings, power lines

(Reuters) -A tornado tore through the southern U.S. city of Tupelo on Sunday, blowing the roofs off homes and tearing down trees and power lines, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

“Emergency crews are currently assessing the degree of damage,” the mayor’s office said in a statement on Facebook, urging people to stay in their homes.

Social media images and videos showed the roofs of many homes and buildings blown away, electricity lines down and streets in the Mississippi city swamped with debris.

The tornado also wreaked damage in southeast Pontotoc County and Calhoun City, television station WTVA said.

“Calhoun City was hit hard tonight,” the county sheriff, Greg Pollan, said on Facebook. “Light poles have been snapped off. Trees in a few homes. Trees on vehicles. Damage to several businesses.”

Strong storms are expected to continue moving east across north Mississippi and southwest Tennessee early on Monday, weather authorities said.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Tornadoes rip Tennessee, leaving at least 19 dead, many missing

By Timothy Ghianni

NASHVILLE (Reuters) – At least 19 people were killed early on Tuesday after powerful tornadoes ripped through Nashville and other parts of Tennessee, flattening buildings and leaving tens of thousands of people without power, authorities said.

The death toll, provided by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, may rise given the number of people who remain missing statewide, Governor William Lee said at a news briefing.

Debris covers a car near after a tornado touched down at Donelson Christian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee March 3, 2020. Shelley Mays/The Tennessean via USA TODAY via REUTERS

Rescue teams were going door to door, searching damaged structures for trapped or injured individuals, the Nashville Fire Department said.

At least 30 people were injured in Nashville, the state capital, and least 48 buildings were destroyed, with many more damaged, Fire Department Director Chief William Swann said.

Tennessee is one 14 states that will be holding primary elections on Super Tuesday. Despite the widespread destruction, polling sites at schools and elsewhere will be open for voting unless otherwise noted, officials said.

“We want people to exercise their rights and get out there and vote,” Lee said.

Lightning that accompanied the tornado lit up the darkened sky as the storm rumbled through central Nashville, video posted on Twitter showed.

At daybreak, video footage on local television revealed leveled houses and crumbled businesses in Nashville, a city of 691,000.

Crushed vehicles, piles of debris and power lines snapped in two were strewn about, and rescue vehicles blocked streets as residents carried their belongings away from their destroyed homes.

The police department in the Mt. Juliet suburb east of Nashville reported multiple homes damaged and people injured.

“This was obviously a very strong tornado. There are multiple homes damaged, multiple people injured, multiple people still trapped,” Mt. Juliet Police Captain Tyler Chandler said in a video posted on Facebook. “We need your help. And that means if you can stay at your house, please stay home.”

SUPER TUESDAY

Schools, district offices and courts will close on Tuesday due to the tornado damage throughout Nashville, apart from the public buildings set to be used for polling.

Voting in Nashville and the surrounding area will start an hour later at 8 a.m. local time due to extensive storm damage, state election officials said. Polling will still close at 7 p.m., as earlier planned. Authorities will relocate some polling places.

Officials told residents of Nashville, among the country’s fastest-growing cities, to try not to travel, especially through the damaged areas.

Lee said he had spoken to the White House about federal assistance and that he planned to assess the damage in a helicopter on Tuesday.

“Prayers for all of those affected by the devastating tornadoes in Tennessee,” President Donald Trump said on Twitter. “We will continue to monitor the developments.”

The twister knocked down power lines, and one utility pole dangled horizontally in the street in the Donelson area, home to country music’s most famous concert stage, the Grand Ole Opry, news pictures showed.

Nashville Electric, the city’s public utility, said http://bit.ly/38dQBMo there were more than 44,000 customers without power early in the morning, with reported damage to four substations, 15 primary distribution lines, and multiple power poles and lines.

John C. Tune Airport (JWN), located 8 miles from downtown Nashville, “sustained significant damage” and several hangars were destroyed, the airport said on its website.

The National Weather Service said there were eight reported tornadoes that touched down in Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky.

This is not the first tornado to occur on Super Tuesday in Tennessee. In 2008, a nighttime tornado caused significant damage across the middle part of the state, the weather service said in a Twitter post.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

‘Very strong’ tornado rips through Nashville, killing at least nine

By Bhargav Acharya

(Reuters) – At least nine people were killed by a powerful tornado that struck Nashville, Tennessee in the early hours of Tuesday morning, flattening buildings, damaging an airport and leaving tens of thousands of people without power.

The fatalities included four people in Putnam County, two in the state capital Nashville, two in Wilson County and one in Benton County, ABC News reported, citing the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Search and rescue teams were out searching damaged structures for trapped or injured individuals, the Nashville Fire Department said. Earlier in the morning, the department had said it was responding to reports of approximately 40 collapses of structures around the city.

The police department in the Mt. Juliet suburb east of Nashville reported multiple homes damaged and people injured.

“This was obviously a very strong tornado. There are multiple homes damaged, multiple people injured, multiple people still trapped,” Mt. Juliet Police Captain Tyler Chandler said in a video posted on Facebook. “We need your help. And that means if you can stay at your house, please stay home.”

Schools, district offices and courts will be closed on Tuesday due to the tornado damage throughout Nashville, officials said, but election polling sites at schools and elsewhere will be open “unless otherwise noted.”

Tennessee is one 14 states that will be holding primary elections on Super Tuesday, but voting in Nashville and the surrounding area will start an hour later at 8 a.m. local time due to extensive storm damage, state election officials said. Polling will still close at 7 p.m., as earlier planned.

Some polling places will also be relocated, they said.

Nashville Electric, the city’s public utility, said http://bit.ly/38dQBMo there were more than 44,000 customers without power early in the morning, with reported damage to four substations, 15 primary distribution lines, and multiple power poles and lines.

John C. Tune Airport (JWN), located 8 miles from downtown Nashville, “sustained significant damage” due to severe weather and several hangars had been destroyed, the airport said on its website.

Lightning that accompanied the tornado lit up the darkened sky as the storm rumbled through central Nashville, according to video posted by Twitter user Brian Bates.

The twister knocked down power lines, and one utility pole dangled horizontally in the street in the Donelson area, home to country music’s most famous concert stage, the Grand Ole Opry, news pictures showed.

Images also showed rubble and debris scattered across the parking lot of the Donelson Christian Academy in Nashville.

This is not the first tornado to occur on Super Tuesday in Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service in Nashville.

“The one many remember is the 2008 Tornado Outbreak. That was also a nighttime tornado event (but AFTER the voting) that caused significant damage across Middle Tennessee,” the NWS said in a post on Twitter.

Nashville, with a population of 691,000, is among the country’s fastest-growing cities and is the informal country music capital of the United States.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Daniel Trotta and Maria Caspani; Editing by Peter Graff and Bernadette Baum)

Dallas orders curfew after tornado shreds homes; thousands without power

Dallas orders curfew after tornado shreds homes; thousands without power
(Reuters) – Police declared a curfew on Monday in parts of Dallas where a powerful tornado tore apart homes and flipped cars, leaving tens of thousands without power for a second night.

Three people were reported hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after the Sunday storm ripped through north Dallas with maximum wind speeds of 140 mph (225 kph), according to the National Weather Service.

Emergency management workers went door to door in areas such as Preston Hollow and Richardson, checking homes without roofs or crushed by fallen trees, tagging structures with orange spray paint.

“#DallasTornado you took my job! my school!” one Twitter user, Monica Badillo, posted, along with images of shattered windows and debris at Primrose School in Preston Hollow, where she said she worked.

The Dallas Police Department (DPD) asked residents to stay indoors between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and told non-residents to stay out of areas where the twister left a miles-long swath of destruction.

“DPD is urging residents to remain vigilant and not enter the impacted areas for their own safety,” the department said, adding it had received reports of looting that had so far turned out to be false.

Dozens of residents were expected to spend the night at a leisure complex turned into a shelter near Love Field Airport, city authorities said.

The winds were powerful enough to cave in a Home Depot <HD.N> do-it-yourself store, leaving a mangled mess of ceiling beams.

The tornado caused traffic chaos, with numerous roads blocked and dozens of stop lights out, transport authorities said.

Fire rescue officials said it would take another day to make a final assessment of the destruction, with less than half of the affected area checked by nightfall.

About 42,000 people were without power by Monday evening, according to utility firm Oncor, which pressed helicopters and drones into its effort to find and fix damaged lines.

Some residents should prepare for a possible multi-day outage as destroyed electric equipment is rebuilt, it added.

Although no fatalities were reported in the Dallas area, severe storms were blamed for at least three deaths in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas, state authorities said.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Gabriella Borter in New York and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Clarence Fernandez)

Homes destroyed, thousands without power after tornado rips through Dallas

Homes destroyed, thousands without power after tornado rips through Dallas
(Reuters) – Emergency responders on Monday were assessing damage from a tornado that plowed through parts of northern Dallas late on Sunday, knocking out power to more than 175,000 homes and businesses and delaying flights at regional airports.

The city’s emergency management department said on its website that 100 traffic lights were without power and several more were knocked down on Monday morning, and crews were still surveying the damage. There were no reports of fatalities.

Some 63,000 homes and businesses in Dallas county were still without power on Monday morning, according to PowerOutage.us.

The storm left a miles-long swath of destruction through Dallas, hitting near the Love Field airport in the city’s north, the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park Maryland said early on Monday.

Video footage on Twitter showed collapsed roofs, overturned cars and homes reduced to piles of debris in the wake of the twister in Richardson, Texas, a northeast suburb of Dallas. Images showed the roof and walls of a Home Depot <HD.N> store had caved in, exposing a mangled web of ceiling beams.

“It was exactly one tornado that hit at 9:02 p.m.,” said National Weather Service meteorologist David Roth.

“We also saw golf ball- and baseball-sized hail in some areas and a narrow swath of north Dallas that got between one to three inches of rain,” Roth said, or the equivalent of 2.5 cm to 7.6 cm.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Alex Richardson and Steve Orlofsky)

Tornado hits near Tulsa, Oklahoma airport as five states brace for severe weather

A tornado spins during stormy weather in Mangum, Oklahoma, U.S., May 20, 2019, in this still image taken from video from social media. Lorraine Matti via REUTERS

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – A tornado was spotted near the main airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, as 22 million people in the central United States faced a severe weather system that brought hail, heavy rain and flooding, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The silhouette of a tornado appears during a lightning strike in Haskell, Oklahoma, U.S., May 20, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Matthew Harden via REUTERS

The silhouette of a tornado appears during a lightning strike in Haskell, Oklahoma, U.S., May 20, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Matthew Harden via REUTERS

The twister near Tulsa International Airport was one of at least 22 that have ripped through the region since late Monday evening, according to the NWS. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries and airport officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A tornado spins during stormy weather in Mangum, Oklahoma, U.S., May 20, 2019, in this still image taken from video from social media. Clint Lively via REUTERS

A tornado spins during stormy weather in Mangum, Oklahoma, U.S., May 20, 2019, in this still image taken from video from social media. Clint Lively via REUTERS

“More tornadoes are on the way today,” said NWS forecaster Rich Otto.

The NWS said it expected severe weather across Texas, Louisiana and into Alabama and as far north as Iowa and Nebraska throughout the day and into the night on Tuesday.

Flooding in the area forced evacuations and high water rescues overnight, local media reported.

Some 4 million people were under a flash flood warning or watch through Tuesday in the region.

On Monday, the NWS said the risk of tornadoes in the region was higher than at any time in years.

Local media and officials reported that some homes and businesses were damaged but it was not immediately known if there were any serious injuries.

“Flooding is still the big concern,” Otto said. “Some areas could get another 2 inches (5 cm) of rain today, but that comes after another 5 to 10 inches (13-25 cm) some areas have already seen.”

A new storm system is brewing and could hit the same southern states later this week.

“The whole area is in the bullseye, with more rounds of severe storms possible,” the forecaster said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Alabama tornadoes kill 23, including 3 children; like ‘giant knife’

Dax Leandro salvages clothing from the wreckage of his friend's home after two back-to-back tornadoes touched down, in Beauregard, Alabama, U.S., March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

By Deborah Bloom

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (Reuters) – Alabama residents and rescue workers on Monday dug through the remnants of homes destroyed by a spate of tornadoes that killed at least 23 people, including at least three children, the deadliest U.S. twisters since 2013.

The tornadoes ripped through Lee County on Sunday with winds of up to 170 miles per hour (274 km per hour), at step four of the six-step Enhanced Fujita scale, which meteorologists use to measure tornado strength. Earlier estimates had put winds at 150 mph (241 kph).

Debris of housing seen following a tornado in Beauregard, Alabama, U.S. in this March 3, 2019 still image obtained from social media video. SCOTT FILLMER /via REUTERS

Debris of housing seen following a tornado in Beauregard, Alabama, U.S. in this March 3, 2019 still image obtained from social media video. SCOTT FILLMER /via REUTERS

At least two tornadoes struck an area of eastern Alabama near the Georgia border in the space of a few hours on Sunday afternoon, with some of the worst damage in the tiny community of Beauregard, according to the National Weather Service.

Mobile homes were tossed on their sides and ripped open, their contents strewn on the ground, live television images showed. Pieces of homes hung from trees that were not flattened by the storm.

More than 50 people were reported injured, authorities said, making the tornadoes the deadliest since the one that tore through Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013, killing 24 people.

“It looks almost as if someone took a giant knife and just scraped the ground. There are slabs where homes formerly stood, debris everywhere, trees are snapped,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told a morning news conference.

Three of the dead were children, ages 6, 9 and 10, County Coroner Bill Harris told an afternoon news conference. Family members identified two of the young victims.

A morning search of the area found no additional bodies, which officials had feared likely.

“We have not recovered any further victims from the areas that we have initially searched but I want to add a caveat to that, that we have not completed our searches,” Jones told the afternoon briefing.

All but six of the victims were identified and investigators think they know the identities of the others, Harris said.

‘THAT’S HALF MY HOME’

Jenifer Vernon, a 40-year-old grocery store attendant, surveyed the wreckage of her flattened home, spread in piles on either side of her Beauregard street.

“That’s half my home,” said Vernon, pointing to the debris. “That’s the other half.” She was in the nearby town of Opelika with her husband and 14-year-old daughter when the tornadoes hit.

Looking over splintered pieces of wood and the remains of kitchen appliances, Vernon said she had lost another home to fire last year, adding, “We’ll bounce back from this.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be helping.

“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump said.

The death toll was more than double the 10 people killed by tornadoes in the United States for all of 2018, according to government data.

Julie Morrison, a 61-year-old produce manager who has lived in Beauregard for 19 years, said she survived the storm by hiding in a bathtub with her husband.

On Monday, all that remained of her home was its concrete foundation, piled under heaps of wood and broken furniture, with the tattered remainders of a trailer wrapped around a tree.

“It’s just devastating to see this,” Morrison said. “I just thank God that me and my husband survived.”

(Additional reporting by Joseph Ax and Gabriella Borter in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Scott Malone, Jeffrey Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman)

Hundreds of thousands without power in Ottawa after tornado hits

A man removes branches from a damaged tree after a tornado hit the Mont-Bleu neighbourhood in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people were stranded without power in and around the Canadian capital Ottawa on Saturday after a tornado touched down twice, destroying some houses and ripping the roofs off others.

At the same time high winds also battered the region and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said it could be days before electricity was fully restored. At least six people were injured.

A woman walks past debris after a tornado hit the Mont-Bleu neighbourhood in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

A woman walks past debris after a tornado hit the Mont-Bleu neighbourhood in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

“It’s in the top two or three traumatic events that have affected our city,” Watson told reporters. “It looks like something from a movie scene or a war scene.”

The tornado hit on Friday evening, demolishing homes in the town of Dunrobin to the north west of the city before crossing over to the town of Gatineau, which lies directly to the north of Ottawa in the province of Quebec.

High winds damaged part of Ottawa’s major electrical substations and officials said around 200,000 people on both sides of the river were without power. Ottawa and Gatineau together have a population of around 1.3 million people.

“We have lost absolutely everything. I have got a beer fridge that’s sitting in my garage – that is the only thing that is untouched – but everything else has gone,” Ottawa resident Todd Nicholson told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. He was not home when the tornado struck.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard broke off campaigning ahead of an Oct 1 provincial election to travel to Gatineau.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Franklin Paul)