Storm brings wind, rain to US Midwest, South
A massive storm making its way through a big chunk of the United States brought a bit of everything: strong winds, rain, tornadoes and now even some snow.
The storm packed wind gusts of up to 81 mph (130 kph) Tuesday as it howled across the Midwest and South, snapping trees and power lines, ripping off roofs and delaying flights. The storm continued its trek early Wednesday, with snow falling in the northern Midwest states of North and South Dakota and Minnesota.
The unusual system mesmerized meteorologists because of its size and because it had barometric pressure that was similar to a Category 3 hurricane, but with much less destructive power.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the system's pressure reading Tuesday was among the lowest ever in a non-tropical storm in the mainland U.S. Spokeswoman Susan Buchanan said the storm was within the top five in terms of low pressure, which brings greater winds.
The fast-moving storm blew in from the Pacific Northwest on the strength of a jet stream that is about one-third stronger than normal for this time of year, said David Imy, operations chief at the NOAA's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
As the system moved into the U.S. heartland, it drew in warm air needed to fuel thunderstorms. Then the winds intensified and tornadoes formed.
A tornado touched down in Racine County, Wisconsin, where two people were injured when a section of roof was torn off a tractor factory, and in Van Wert County, Ohio, near the Indiana border, where a barn was flattened and flipped over a tractor-trailer and camper. In Lincoln County, North Carolina, 11 people were injured and several homes damaged when a possible tornado touched down, emergency management officials said. An apparent tornado on the Chickamauga Dam in Chattanooga, Tennessee, caused an accident that led to the closure of the highway and injured several people. A tornado also touched down in Peotone, Illinois, where three people were injured when a home's roof came off, and twisters were suspected in several other states.
Sheryl Uthemann, 49, was working first shift at the Case New Holland plant in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, when the storm blew through and started to lift the roof.
"It was just a regular workday and all of a sudden that noise just came and (co-workers) said 'Run! Run! Run!' You didn't have time to think," she said. "I looked up where the noise was coming from and saw pieces of the roof sucked up. I've never been more scared, ever."
A blizzard warning was in effect Wednesday for North Dakota, where up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) was expected in some areas.
About 500 flights were canceled and others delayed at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, a major hub.
Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington; Karen Hawkins, Carla K. Johnson, Tamara Starks and Lindsey Tanner in Chicago; David Aguilar in Detroit; John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan; Tom Davies in South Bend, Indiana; Jeannie Nuss in Columbus, Ohio; Doug Whiteman in Cleveland, Ohio; Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee and Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this story.