DETROIT – Ground stops were briefly in place Wednesday at three major Midwestern airports as a front of dangerous thunderstorms that fueled multiple tornadoes rolled through the region.
Planes were again flying but significant delays were reported at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports Wednesday morning.
“The atmosphere will be favorable for significant severe weather including tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds,” the National Weather Service office in Detroit tweeted.
A tornado that touched down Bollinger County, Missouri, caused injuries and damaged homes, said weather service meteorologist Justin Gibbs. Tornadoes also slammed through parts of Illinois and Iowa late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Severe storms could also produce strong tornadoes and large hail across parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas, the weather service warned. More than 45 million Americans were under tornado, severe thunderstorm or wind watches and advisories Wednesday.
The latest line of destructive weather comes less than a week after dozens of tornadoes roared through the Midwest and South, killing more than 30 people and damaging thousands of homes and businesses.
Farther north, blizzard conditions were sweeping across parts of the Upper Midwest; parts of the Dakotas were expecting up to 17 inches of snow. And wintry weather is also returning to New York and New England on Wednesday: Snow, freezing rain and sleet are possible in the region.
►The weather service in Missouri confirmed a tornado hit near Glenallen early Wednesday. State emergency management officials said damage was “extensive.”
►In Illinois, the weather service found evidence of an EF-2 tornado with maximum winds of 120 mph near Colona on Tuesday. A roof was torn off a gas station with a wall collapsed.
Gibbs said it appears initially that the tornado was on the ground for 15-20 miles in the area about 90 miles south of St. Louis. He said the weather service will send a survey team to the area later Wednesday to assess the damage and determine the strength of the tornado.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol had earlier reported suspected tornado damage with a widespread debris field and some injuries in Bolinger County in the state’s southeast near the communities of Grassy and Marble Hill. Sgt. Clark Parrott of the Missouri State Highway Patrol told KFVS-TV it was not immediately clear how many were injured.
Two tornadoes were confirmed in Central Iowa on Tuesday night. In Keokuk County, where 19 homes were destroyed and others damaged in last week’s storms, emergency management official Marissa Reisen worried about residents coping if another storm hits.
“All of the people who have been impacted by the storms Friday night are doing all this work, to clean up, to gather their stuff, to pile up the debris,” Reisen said. “If a storm comes through and hits them again and throws all that hard work all over the place again, it will be so deflating to those people.”
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The fierce storms that started Friday and continued into the weekend spawned deadly tornadoes in 11 states as the system swept across much of the South, Midwest and Northeast. The same conditions that fueled those storms – an area of low pressure combined with strong southerly winds – were setting up the severe weather Tuesday into early Wednesday, said Ryan Bunker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Severe weather and tornado risks that spread across the Plains and Mississippi Valley on Tuesday are moving east, impacting a stretch from the Great Lakes region to parts of the Appalachians and beyond on Wednesday.
Dangerous winds and severe thunderstorms were possible in at least 10 states on Wednesday.
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Dozens of schools in South Dakota closed Tuesday because of blizzard conditions. State executive branch offices were also closed in much of the state. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed off on $20 million Tuesday for emergency snow removal grants to localities.
The severe weather that rattled more than a dozen states on Tuesday was expected to move east on Wednesday. A band of the country from Louisiana to western New York could be at risk for severe thunderstorms on Wednesday, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. The zone will likely include parts of the Ohio Valley to the Great Lakes region and parts of the Appalachians. The areas could be at risk for hail, isolated tornadoes and damaging wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph.
A blizzard warning remained in effect into Wednesday in states in the Plains and Midwest, and some areas were expecting over a foot of snow. Blizzard conditions were expected in North Dakota, and up to 17 inches of snow with winds gusting up to 55 mph were possible in some areas. A blizzard warning is also in effect until Thursday morning in parts of Minnesota; snow accumulations of up to 16 inches and winds up to 45 mph were possible.
But even in states where blizzard conditions weren’t likely on Thursday, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories stretched from Wyoming to Michigan. In northern Michigan, show and sleet accumulations of up to 2 inches were possible, while winds were expected to reach up to 40 mph.
Snow accumulations were expected to reach up to 2 inches, and freezing rain and sleet could make travel treacherous in the area. The hazardous driving conditions could impact the morning commute, the National Weather Service warned.
Sleet accumulations could reach up to 1 inch in parts of Maine and New Hampshire, and winds could gust up to 35 mph.
Contributing: Francesca Block, Des Moines Register; The Associated Press