Published on : Thursday, June 5, 2014
There are grave possibilities that more than 35 million Americans could face mayhem on Wednesday as a dense pattern of severe storms lashed Nebraska with baseball-sized hail before spreading across the Midwest.
The Weather Channel’s lead forecaster Kevin Roth said tornadoes were possible across a huge area of the Midwest and parts of Mississippi River Valley. One tornado was confirmed by spotters on the ground in Ord, Nebraska late Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. The Weather Channel said it had reports of 11 other unconfirmed tornadoes – seven more in Nebraska, two in Kansas, one in Iowa and one in western Wyoming.
A gustnado, a low-level, rolling cloud accompanying a thunderstorm, was also recorded in Seward, Nebraska late on Tuesday. Across the state, the multiple storms uprooted trees, destroyed homes, blew off roofs, shattered windshields and dented automobile hoods. Over 90 per cent of the state was affected by severe weather, said Roth.
During a span of eight minutes starting around 5 pm local time (6 pm ET), the NWS recorded 1.08 inches of rain at the Omaha airport, which was shut for a few hours due to anticipated risk of flash flooding on the airfield. Across the Plains and the Midwest, the wind damage stretched for hundreds of miles – although the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center had yet to declare that a ‘derecho’ had occurred. “Certainly it meets the criteria for a derecho,” said Roth.
The Deep South and Southeast could also see heat-related severe thunderstorms later Wednesday, Roth said.
The huge weather system responsible for this week’s storms was spreading south and east on Wednesday, bringing gusts blowing at a speed of up to 70 mph for many across the Midwest, the Ohio Valley and stretching as far as Tennessee and western Kentucky.
MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins said that the threat of wind and hail damage on Wednesday will likely only be half as bad as Tuesday, but could be over a much more populated area — with about 20 million people being threatened in those areas.
This week’s severe weather occurred amid an unusually quiet late spring, with fewer documented tornadoes in May than in previous years. However, the milder thunderstorms that drenched Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York on Tuesday evening were expected to have dried out by Wednesday.