At least five killed after blinding dust storm batters heartland

At least five killed after blinding dust storm with winds topping 100 mph batters heartland from Kansas to Minnesota: Extreme weather topples trucks in Colorado, fans wildfires in Oklahoma and leaves more than 300K without power

  • A day after a powerful storm made it’s way through the Plains and Midwest Wednesday night, five deaths have connected to the extreme weather have been confirmed 
  • In Olmsted County, Minnesota a 65-year-old man was killed when a 40-foot tree fell outside his home
  • In Iowa a truck driver was killed in an accident after high winds rolled the vehicle onto its side on southbound U.S. Highway 151 in eastern Iowa on Wednesday evening, Iowa State Patrol confirmed 
  • In Kansas, three people were killed in two separate car crashes due to a blinding dust storm with powerful winds of 90mph that tore through half of the state
  • A severe weather alert was in place for 100 million people in states throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, with the National Weather Service calling it a ‘historical weather day’
  • It came amid some record high temperatures, just days after dozens of powerful tornadoes swept through the area, flattening homes and businesses

At least five people were killed by extreme weather that included a blinding dust storm with winds topping 100 mph that battered states from Kansas to Minnesota, less than a week after dozens of tornadoes left a trail of death and destruction in five state in the Mississippi Valley. 

The powerful storm on Wednesday, amid some record-high temperature, affected 100 million people in states throughout the Midwest and Great Plains with the National Weather Service calling it a ‘historical weather day.’

The extreme winds created blinding driving conditions in Kansas, knocked over semi trucks in Colorado and Iowa, fanned wildfires in the Oklahoma panhandle and has left more than 300,000 people without power. 

‘The Central US has never seen a December storm like this,’ tweeted Bill Karins, a meteorologist for MSNBC, saying it was ‘multi-hazard, life threatening weather today.’

In Olmsted County, Minnesota, a 65-year-old man was killed when a 40-foot tree fell outside his home, AP reported. 

In Iowa, a truck driver was killed in an accident after high winds rolled the vehicle onto its side on southbound U.S. Highway 151, the State Patrol confirmed.

In Kansas, three people were killed in two separate car crashes due to a blinding dust storm with powerful winds of 90mph that tore through half of the state.  

Scroll Down For Video: 

Deer stand in a field near a wildfire near Ness City, Kansas on Wednesday after winds across the central and northern plains on Wednesday resulted in several road closure and wildfires 

Community members survey the damage after a strong thunderstorm swept through Hartland, Minnesota on Wednesday

Several buildings can be seen damaged on the southside of Neola, Iowa on Thursday a day after a storm tore through the area 

An electrical worker in Harland, Minnesota assess the damage caused by a strong thunderstorm that swept through the town on Wednesday night

Hartland, Minnesota residents help with the clean up effort and clear fallen trees after a strong thunderstorm swept through the town Wednesday night

A day after severe weather produced strong gusts of wind, grain trailer sits among the debris of a farm building damaged by the storm in Jefferson, Iowa

A utility pole leans over a field near Jefferson, Iowa, on Thursday the day after an intense storm that produced winds well above 70 miles per hour tore through the Midwest 

A grain bin in Greene County, Iowa completely collapsed under the force of powerful winds that tore through Iowa on Wednesday, downing power lines and leaving Iowans without electricity 

A cleanup goes underway on Thursday on a farm near Jefferson, Iowa, on Thursday one days after a storm tore through the state leaving residents without electricity 

A sheet of metal is wrapped around the stump of a utility pole near Jefferson, Iowa after strong winds and tornadoes tore through the state on Wednesday 

Sheets of metal litter a field south of Jefferson, Iowa on Thursday in the aftermath of Wednesday’s severe weather in the state that even led to tornadoes 

A powerful winter storm front was captured in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday morning with the wall of wind expanding rapidly within a minute

A Department of Streets and Sanitation worker gets to work on removing a tree that collapsed on several cars after strong winds passed through Chicago 

After a night of powerful winds, members of the Chicago Fire Department remove a section from a building that was beginning to dangle over a sidewalk near the intersection

A downed utility pole was ripped from the root and lays in front of a Chicago home the morning after a powerful storm 

Overnight extreme weather in the Midwest caused a large tree to collapse onto a home in Ogden, Iowa, destroying the entrance of the one story house 

The Rudd Library in Floyd County is completely demolished by a possible tornado that passed through the state of Iowa 

Extreme damage to a structure in the Clifton area after a storm blew through northeast Kansas on Wednesday night 

The terrifying moment a moving truck falls over due to high winds in Lincoln, Nebraska on Wednesday 

A large tree in Greenfield, Iowa is almost completely blown away following a historical storm that tore through the Midwest 

IOWA: An Iowa State Patrol trooper worked the scene of an overturned semi truck along the westbound shoulder of I-80

A garage door in Gunthrie Center, Iowa is blown off following extreme weather that carried winds of 70 to more than 100 miles per hour in the area 

An Outdoor Learning Environment roof was completely ripped off in Iowa after ‘Life-threatening’ weather wreaked havoc for millions of residents across the heartlands

Tree branches cover a GMC truck in northeast Kansas that was damaged in a blinding dust storm that overtook parts of the Midwest 

Branches on a tree in front of a sorority house by Kansas State University are torn apart following the powerful storm that tore through the area this week 

Dust storms and earthquakes: Kansas is hit with several natural disasters in one day 

Just hours before a powerful dust storm passed through Kansas, greatly reducing visibility and taking down power lines, those in Saline County experienced four earthquakes.

The first occurred on Tuesday afternoon shortly after 4pm when a 2.5 magnitude quake shook Gypsum.

Then in the early hours of Wednesday, a 4.0 magnitude quake rocked the same area, and a third, this time at a magnitude of 3.4, struck later in the morning.

And a fourth,  3.1 magnitude quake, occurred just after 12.17pm on Wednesday. 

Wednesday’s wind storm had the most hurricane-force wind gusts of any storm since at least 2014, the Washington Post reported. 

The storm system left more than half a million homes and businesses without power in eight states, with the majority of the outages caused by high winds in Michigan, where there were 239,000 outages and in Wisconsin, where 138,000 were left without power on Wednesday. 

The rest of the outages were recorded in Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota, the Weather Channel reported.  

Footage of the powerful storm in Kansas, where wind gusts reached up to 90mph, show the winds whipping red dust at such high speeds that KSN meteorologists warned ‘It’s zero visibility,’ as drivers were forced to pull over and put on their brake lights. 

‘Visibility was extremely low,’ Jaclyn Liberator, who took a video of the dangerous storm, told KSHB.

‘There was one point depending on which car was in front of us… like we couldn’t even see it was a flat bed truck, and we couldn’t even see it was pulling the flatbed we saw only 10 feet of the flatbed so basically 10 to 20 feet in front of us.’

The National Weather Service issued a severe wind advisory for Leavenworth County, and urged residents to seek shelter and avoid windows in the storm, while the Kansas Department of Transportation also reported that highways throughout the state are closed, and staff had to be evacuated from the air traffic control center of the Kansas City International Airport, likely causing diversions and delays during the busy holiday season. 

The National Weather Service in Wichita said wind in the city of Russell hit 100mph at the airport at about 4pm on Wednesday.

But the brunt of the storm appeared to strike Hutchinson and central Kansas between 4pm and 5pm, the Topeka Capitol Journal reports.

In just that one hour, power outages around Hutchinson shot up from 48, impacting around 500 customers, to more than 455, affecting more tan 5,700 customers.

And by 5.15pm, the number had limed to 672 outages, with some 7,835 customers left in the dark, as emergency personnel throughout the region responded to downed powerlines and poles. 

A large storage facility in Hutchinson also collapsed Wednesday night, after witnesses saw the roof blow off from one side, as if ‘it was hinged,’ around 6pm, KWCH reporter Alex Flippin tweeted, with another reporter, Greg Payne on the scene as debris fell from part of a roof at the Kansas City’s Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport.

Officials say the roof of one of the hangars was ripped off during wind gusts up to 77 mph.

‘We have a roof that just came off,’ Payne said on his live broadcast Wednesday night, noting he wasn’t sure what he heard until he saw the debris start to fall. 

The winds also sparked fires throughout the central and western parts of the state, Jane Welch, a spokeswoman for the state’s Division of Emergency Management told the New York Times, saying at least one home was destroyed, but no deaths or injuries were reported.

Forecasters had earlier warned that the gusty winds, dry air and warm temperatures would create conditions rife for ‘an extreme to potentially catastrophic grassland fire.’

A tree is torn apart by storm damage in northeast Kansas after an overnight storm with powerful winds that reached up to 100 miles per hour devastated the Midwest 

A semi truck tipped over in Kansas on the I-70 going from Hays to Topeka due to the strong winds from the powerful storm that tore through northeast Kansas 

IOWA: A tornado was seen approaching I-80 near Atlantic, Iowa, as a semi truck rolled eastward

KANSAS: Photos and video posted to social media showed visibility greatly reduced in the dust storm that spread over Kansas

OKLAHOMA: Smoke billowed throughout the sky in Guymon, Oklahoma, in the panhandle of the state

COLORADO: A rainbow formed over the massive dust clouds as the storm spread into Colorado on Wednesday

New Mexico: A powerful storm on Wednesday overturned some small planes at the Santa Fe Regional Airport

MISSOURI: The winds were so severe, at 90mph, that they even managed to knock over an 18-wheeler in the storm

The storm hovered over Kansas Wednesday evening, extending into Missouri and Colorado

Much of the Central US was under a weather warning on Wednesday as the storms rolled in 

Eric Metzger, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wichita, said the biggest blaze was in Russell and Ellsworth counties in the central part of the state, where two fires ‘merged together into one massive fire.’

‘It’s probably about 40 miles long,’ he said, noting that before Wednesday, Kansas had not had any rain for over a month.

‘I’ve lived out here for more than 20 years,’ he said. ‘This is historic for us.’

Welch also noted that the winds were so strong that it was too dangerous for emergency crews to fight the fires from the air, and the National Weather Service warned people they may need to evacuate.

In Wichita, meanwhile, the Air Quality Index was reported at 99, putting the city on the verge of unhealthy levels.

‘We are advising residents, especially those in sensitive groups, to consider limiting time outdoors until air quality improves,’ city officials wrote on Twitter. 

At 3pm, Gov. Laura Kelly issued an inclement weather declaration for Shawnee County, effectively closing state offices in the area, as a tornado warning had been issued for the western part of the state.   

A porta shed flew into a neighbors tree, propelled by the powerful winds from the powerful storm that ripped through northeast Kansas on Wednesday

KANSAS: A large storage facility collapsed in Hutchinson, Kansas collapsed after witnesses saw the roof blow off from one side as if ‘it was hinged,’ around 6pm, KWCH reporter Alex Flippin tweeted

 Winds topple tractor trailers in Colorado

In Colorado, meanwhile, 107mph winds were powerful enough snap telephone poles and knock over tractor trailers, with more than a dozen down in the Pikes Peak region.

The Colorado Department of Transportation tweeted that several roads were closed due to the high winds and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Golden said a highway was closed due to downed power lines and a truck that toppled over. 

Mayor Kirk Crespen, of Lamar, Colorado, said crews have been out all day to try to clean up the damage caused by the winds as well as fix the broken telephone poles.

Mike Smaldino, a public information officer with the Colorado Springs Fire Department also said sustained winds of up to 100 miles per hour caused significant damage in the city.

‘Our own fire department roof has partly blown off,’ he told CNN, noting: ‘Just on my drive into the city, I saw about a dozen semitrucks toppled over.’

COLORADO: The winds were so powerful that they knocked over tractor trailers, like this one in Colorado Springs. Paramedics are seen here tending to an injured person on the onramp of I-25 north 

COLORADO: Two semitrucks heading in opposite directions on I-25 were overturned in the storm

He also said that calls into the fire department had nearly quadrupled after 5pm, saying: ‘We are dealing with gas leaks, grass fires from powerlines being down as well as smoldering trees.’

At Fort Carson, a US Army base in the state, winds caused major damage to one gate, forcing the base to clear it. 

A public information officer told CNN they are still assessing the damage at the base, but it appears to be minor and no injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, more than 500 flights were delayed into and out of Denver International Airport, with 146 canceled. The Federal Aviation Administration put in a ground delay until 6pm local time at the airport, according to NBC News.

But at one point, a full rainbow appeared above the dust clouds in the state. 

COLORADO: Members of the Colorado Springs Utilities Catamount crew removed a fallen tree that crushed a car

COLORADO: Passers-by took pictures of a tree after it fell in Arvada on Wednesday

COLORADO: An electronic overhead sign warned motorists heading westbound on I-70 of the dangerous winds

Massive fires prompt the evacuation of Oklahoma residents 

Portions of Oklahoma’s panhandle were also evacuated Wednesday afternoon, with all lanes of US Highway 287 closed down due to extreme winds, as fire crews battled massive wildfires in the region.

The large fires spread heavy smoke and caused poor visibility, forcing officials to shut down US 412 and US 64 near Guymon in both directions, with officials asking residents in the area to evacuate. 

The order was rescinded just a few hours later, with Comanche County Management saying the fire is under control. They still urged people to avoid the area, as five volunteer fire department crews remained on the scene.

And in Mooreland, fires were egged on by high winds and hay bales, KOCO reports.

Oklahoma: People in the panhandle were originally told to evacuate, but the order was later rescinded

‘I just got a call from a friend,’ resident Debbie Hargis said. ‘I was down doing taxes and she said “Are you watching? There’s a fire across from your house.”

‘So I came out and I started watering,’ Hargis told KOCO, noting: ‘I’ve been meaning to put a sprinkler system in for years. It’s going in this year.’

She was soon aided by other neighbors trying to help quell the fire.

‘This is a small community,’ she said. ‘Everybody helps everybody.

‘My neighbors down the street were just trying to help me get my hoses hooked up. So neglecting his own yard, helping me.’ 

Though the winds were starting to die down Wednesday night, the Mooreland Fire Department remained on the scene, watching for any embers that could land in neighbors’ yards.  

Tornadoes plow through Iowa and Nebraska

At least 13 tornadoes were reported throughout Nebraska and Iowa on Wednesday, the National Weather Service has said, as winds topped 70mph through much of the two states. 

‘To have this number of damaging wind storms at one time would be unusual anytime of year,’ said Brian Barjenbruch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley, Nebraska told the Associated Press.

‘But to have this happen in December is really abnormal.’

IOWA: Photos were posted to social media showing the storms roll into South Ames, Iowa

The storm raced across the countryside and subsided quickly, the Des Moines Register reports, but not without flattening some buildings in Jefferson, according to KCCI.

Officials urged people to remain in their homes Wednesday night, as Nebraska officials recorded windspeeds clocking in at 100mph, KETV reports. 

Greg Butcher, the city administrator in Seward, Nebraska, said he was standing in his office at city hall Wednesday when he saw a giant wall of cloud rolling toward him. Butcher said he braced for a major hit but so far the worst damage appears to be a few toppled telephone poles.

‘We lucked out,’ he said. ‘It came in really fast.’

The tornadoes came amid record-high temperature, with Omaha reaching 71 degrees on Wednesday morning. 

Source: Read Full Article