US Midwest wakes up to severe storm threat

Published on : Monday, November 18, 2013

stormThe severe storm threat that prevailed over swathes of Indiana during the earlier part of the day has spread across the whole of US as the day progressed. There are possibilities that along with daily life, sporting events or any such special event will also be affected. A number of Midwestern states woke up Sunday to the threat of intense thunderstorms and even tornados, with officials raising concerns that people — including fans heading to some NFL games — might be caught off guard by such severe weather at this time of year.

Weather service officials confirmed that a tornado touched down just before 11 a.m. near the central Illinois community of East Peoria, but authorities did not immediately have damage or injury reports. Weather officials said it was moving northeast about 60 mph; East Peoria is about 150 miles southwest of Chicago.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Russell Schneider, director of the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center. “Approximately 53 million in 10 states are at significant risk for thunderstorms and tornados.”

Schneider noted that the storms are moving at 60 mph, which he said will not give people
enough time to seek shelter if they’re relying on watching the sky alone.

According to agency officials, parts of Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio are at the greatest risk of seeing tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds throughout the day Sunday. Strong winds and atmospheric instability were expected to sweep across the central Plains during the day before pushing into the mid-Atlantic states and northeast by evening.

In Chicago, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued a warning to fans attending making their way to Soldier Field to watch the Chicago Bears host the Baltimore Ravens. It urged fans “to take extra precautions and … appropriate measures to ensure their personal safety.”

In McHenry County, northwest of Chicago, funnel clouds were spotted late Sunday morning, dropping out of the clouds and then retreating again, said Bob Ellsworth, the assistant director of the county’s emergency management agency. Ellsworth added that none had touched the ground or caused any damage so far. Around the same time, the weather service issued a tornado warning for parts of Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties in Wisconsin.

Friedlein said that such strong storms are rare this late in the year because there usually isn’t enough heat from the sun to sustain the thunderstorms. But he said temperatures Sunday are expected to reach into the 60s and 70s, which he said is warm enough to help produce severe weather when it is coupled with winds, which are typically stronger this time of year than in the summer.

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