Massive thunderstorms swept through the Midwest on Wednesday. Meteorologists warn that the line of storms could launch a weather event called a derecho, which is a straight-line wind storm spanning at least 240 miles. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening, state by state:
National Weather Service authorities are reporting several small tornadoes and quarter-size hail as severe weather moves across northern Illinois. Winnebago County emergency officials reported tornadoes briefly touched down. Meanwhile, airlines canceled more than 120 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Wednesday night’s White Sox game was postponed, along with Northwestern University classes and finals scheduled on its Chicago and Evanston campuses. Game 1 of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup series was played at the United Center. Chicago authorities were mobilizing crews to deal with possible downed power lines and toppled trees. Power outages: About 39,000 in northern Illinois.
Several northern Indiana counties remain under severe weather warnings as a line of powerful thunderstorms rumbled into the state. The strongest part of the huge storm spanned from Gary to Plymouth to Fort Wayne. Weather service officials said golf ball-size hail damaged cars in Winamac, midway between Lafayette and South Bend. About a dozen flights have been canceled at Indianapolis International Airport, most of them in and out of Chicago. Power outages: About 34,000 in northwest Indiana.
Weather service officials say two tornadoes touched down in northern Iowa, near Hampton in Franklin County. Another tornado was reported near Belmond in nearby Wright County. A business owner in Belmond said a tornado demolished a side of his building but that no one but his wife and an employee, who took shelter in the basement, was in the building at the time. Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials say at least two businesses and a home were completely destroyed, but there were no reports of injuries or deaths. Power outages: About 2,700 in northern Iowa, near Mason City.
The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has issued a severe thunderstorm and flash flood watches for parts of southwest Michigan and counties near the Indiana state line. Officials say 1 to 3 inches of rain could be dumped on parts of southwest Michigan within a couple of hours.
A storm dumped heavy rain to parts of southern Minnesota on Wednesday morning, including nearly 3.25 inches at Hutchinson airfield. Madison, in far western Minnesota, recorded a wind gust of 65 mph. No significant damage was reported. Hail estimated at 1.75 inches fell near Wells and Freeborn in southern Minnesota.
Storms were causing minor outages late Wednesday in the Buckeye State. FirstEnergy Corp, which covers Cincinnati, Columbus and Akron, reported 627 customers were without power. An emergency management official in Morrow County told The Columbus Dispatch late Wednesday that there were reports of two possible tornadoes in the central Ohio county. Downed trees were blocking some area roads, but there were no reports of injuries.
The entire state of Pennsylvania remains under a flood watch overnight and through the day Thursday. Weather service officials say the greatest risk of flooding is in the northern portion of the state, while the worst thunderstorms are expected in southern areas. Officials say a standby worker was added at the emergency operations center in Harrisburg and officials had ensured two National Guard helicopters were ready if needed for water rescues.
A partial roof collapse at a Wal-Mart in Lake Delton left two employees with minor injuries as heavy rain and high winds spread across southern Wisconsin. Tornado warnings were issued for several southwestern Wisconsin counties. Weather service officials said wind gusts in a couple areas were clocked at 60 mph. Street flooding was reported in parts of the village of Boscobel in Grant County.