Powerful tornadoes tear through Midwest

Tornado damages described as "horrific"

November 18, 2013

"This is a very dangerous situation"

— Russell Schneider

Tornadoes tore through Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky on Sunday, part of a dangerous line of fast-moving storms that ripped through the Midwest, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more.

Illinois took the brunt of the fury as the string of unusually powerful late-season tornadoes tore across the state, injuring dozens and even prompting officials at Chicago’s Soldier Field to evacuate the stands and delay the Bears game.

According to the National Weather Service, more than 80 tornadoes were reported across the region, though that figure likely includes duplicates.

On Sunday evening, NOAA said witnesses reported 80 tornadoes, 40 hailstorms and 378 instances of severe winds.

At least 10 states were under severe weather alerts, as tornado watches were posted from Michigan to Arkansas. Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power.

The tornado in Washington, Illinois was among the most devastating of the day touching down in the town 150 miles southwest of Chicago around 11 a.m. and lasting about 10 minutes, according to the Peoria Journal Star. Neighborhoods were leveled and cars were sent flying through the air.

The Illinois National Guard dispatched 10 firefighters to Washington to look for survivors that were trapped in rubble. Nearby hospitals set up a temporary emergency care facility in the ravaged city.

Images posted on Twitter and Facebook showed tremendous devastation. Alexandra Sutter, a reporter for central Illinois’ WMBD-TV, called the damage “horrific”.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier reportedly told people to “please pray” for the town in the wake of the damage.

Illinois bore the brunt of nature’s wrath and dozens were injured. But the storm system’s colossal carnage stretched far beyond the state’s borders.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Russell Schneider, director of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. “Approximately 53 million states are at significant risk for thunderstorms and tornadoes.”

Meteorologist Matt Friedlein of the weather service said that such treacherous tempests are not typical this late in the year because there usually isn’t enough heat to sustain extreme thunderstorms. He stressed that fast twisters can catch people off guard if you don’t keep a vigilant eye on the changing weather. He warned “things can change very quickly.”

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