Powerful Storms, Tornadoes Strike Midwest
On June 23, strong thunderstorms erupted in several midwest states, producing destructive winds and several tornadoes. The Weather Channel released an article titled Derecho, Tornadoes Leave Damage In Midwest; Tornado Destroys Homes In Coal City, Illinois.
Reported approximate areas sustaining home damage: Albia, IA (Monroe County, 52531); Millington, MI (Tuscola County, 48746); Manchester, MI (Washentaw County, 48158); Portland, MI (Iona County, 48875); Coal City, IL (Will/Grundy counties, 60416); Sublette, IL (Lee County, 61367); Mendota, IL (LaSalle County, 61342).
NOTE: This is not currently a FEMA declared disaster.
Derecho, Tornadoes Leave Damage In Midwest; Tornado Destroys Homes In Coal City, Illinois
Severe weather marched into the High Plains and Midwest Monday with powerful straight-line winds and tornadoes, causing significant damage to a town in northeastern Illinois.
According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, there were 12 reports of tornadoes in the High Plains and Midwest Monday. Storm survey teams from the National Weather Service have been viewing the damage Tuesday to determine whether those reported tornadoes were actually twisters, or if the damage was created by straight-line winds.
A long-lived squall line known as a derecho ripped across a swath from South Dakota to Wisconsin Monday morning, leaving widespread damage in a path that also included northern Iowa and parts of southern Minnesota. A second round of thunderstorms erupted in the afternoon and evening hours across parts of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, bringing several reports of tornadoes.
Coal City, Illinois, Suffers A Direct Hit
The destruction was evident in Coal City, Illinois, as the sun rose Tuesday morning. Pieces of homes were scattered all over, and trees were heavily damaged.
Emergency crews worked overnight to free residents trapped in their damaged homes after the storms passed, and urged outsiders to stay out of the town due to the dangers from downed power lines and other hazards. The twister ran right through the middle of the town, which is home to about 5,500 people.
"Houses that were there once are just not there anymore," Coal City Police Sgt. Tom Logan told ABC News. He also told The Weather Channel that five injuries have been reported, though none are considered life-threatening.
The National Weather Service surveyed damage and determined the tornado was a high-end EF3 with peak winds estimated at 160 mph.
Coal City was damaged by an EF2 tornado during the Nov. 17, 2013 tornado outbreak in the Midwest. That tornado was produced by the same supercell that spawned a high-end EF4 tornado that ravaged the town of Washington to the southwest.
Coal City is located about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.
Reported Tornadoes Strike Iowa, Illinois, Michigan
After a brief lull following the morning storms, new thunderstorms erupted in Iowa Monday afternoon, bringing a reported tornado to Monroe County. A Hy-Vee grocery store and several other buildings were damaged by a tornado in Albia, the county seat, according to WHO-TV in Des Moines. The National Weather Service rated that as EF1 damage, but the same tornado caused EF3 damage to a home northwest of Albia in rural Monroe County, earning the tornado an EF3 rating. NWS concluded that the tornado stayed on the ground for 25 miles.
Aside from the Coal City twister, several other tornadoes were confirmed in northern Illinois during the evening hours. An EF2 tornado overturned trailers near Sublette in northwest Illinois. Five people who were trapped and suffered minor injuries. Damage from an EF1 tornado was discovered in nearby Harmon, Illinois, during the survey. An EF1 tornado from the same cell was confirmed in Mendota.
Farther west, another EF2 was confirmed near the Rock Island County hamlet of Edgington, where a tornado with maximum winds of 120 mph tracked for more than 4 miles.
No state had more tornado reports on Monday than Illinois, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
In Michigan, an EF2 tornado injured two people and destroyed a home in Tuscola County near Millington Monday evening. Two tornadoes were reported in nearby Sanilac County around Deckerville and were still being surveyed late Tuesday afternoon.
Farther south, an EF1 tornado struck Washtenaw County near Manchester, Michigan, shortly after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. The NWS survey report said the tornado warranted the rating because it had swept a home's garage off its foundation.
Earlier Monday afternoon, an EF1 tornado with estimated winds at 110 mph hit the town of Portland, Michigan, according to a survey crew from the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Grand Rapids. Five people were rescued from collapsed buildings; three of those rescued include a mother and two children who were trapped inside a Goodwill, WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids reports.
NWS did not issue a tornado warning on that particular storm. Weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen said the damage was from a separate cluster of storms and was not part of the derecho farther west.
"We’ve been blessed that no one was seriously injured or killed in this storm," Portland mayor Jim Barnes told The Weather Channel.
Barnes also said 70 homes and two city buildings were damaged by the twister, and three churches were severely damaged. The Portland tornado was Michigan's second confirmed tornado of the year, as an EF0 was confirmed on April 9, according to NOAA.
On average, Michigan sees nine tornadoes from January through June, with this month traditionally being the most active of the year.
"A cluster of severe thunderstorms, fueled by both low-level and upper-level jet energy, swept through the Siouxland early Monday," said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman.
Wind gusts as high as 122 mph struck the High Plains early Monday morning, leaving one person injured near Hayes, South Dakota, according to an NWS storm report.
The storms left major damage at Sheldon Municipal Airport just north of Sheldon, Iowa, in the same area where a 95-mph wind gust was reported. In the images at the bottom of this page, you can see several examples of the damage these storms caused at the airport.
Other damage reports related to the derecho include:
- Hollandale, Wisconsin: Town shut down due to numerous trees down; structural damage to homes also reported
- U.S. 69 was closed in both directions near Galt, Iowa, because of downed cables. U.S. 65 was also closed near Hampton, Iowa, because of debris on the roadway.
- Menominee, Illinois: Fire house blown over by strong winds
- Holy Cross, Iowa: Roof blown off a school building
- Guttenberg, Iowa: Amish grocery store destroyed
The National Weather Service said it believes some of the more serious damage in northeast Iowa, particularly in Fayette County, may have been caused by three or four short-lived tornadoes embedded within the derecho.
More than 17,000 Iowa customers lost power in the wake of the storms Monday morning. Before the storms reached Iowa, thousands of customers lost power in South Dakota due to damaging winds, the Associated Press reported. Via the Argus Leader, the AP also said there were several reports of trees and power lines brought down in Garretson, and four large tanks at a fertilizer plant were also knocked over. While no injuries were reported, a mobile home park was evacuated because of a gas leak, the report added.
In southern Minnesota, storm damage was reported in several towns along Interstate 90, according to the Star Tribune. Between Fairmont and Jackson, a car and house were damaged by a falling tree, the report added.
The complex of storms from South Dakota to Wisconsin qualified as a derecho Monday morning after damaging wind reports spanned more than 400 kilometers, or about 250 miles.
"May through July is the peak for thunderstorm clusters with widespread damaging winds several hundreds of miles long, known as derechoes," said Erdman.
Please click here to view the article online.
Please click on the following links for additional media coverage:
ABC 7 Chicago (6/23/15)
ABC News/Associated Press (6/24/15
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