Storms unleash tornadoes, record snow in parts of US

Ice and snow cover plants in a shop in Illinois as spring storms hit the US Midwest. The weather also led to flights being cancelled, while thousands of people were left without power.
Ice and snow cover plants in a shop in Illinois as spring storms hit the US Midwest. The weather also led to flights being cancelled, while thousands of people were left without power.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ATLANTA (Georgia) • Deadly slow-moving storms generated record or near-record snowfall and low temperatures in the United States Midwest and tornadoes further east, leaving airline travellers stranded and thousands without power, Reuters reported.

In Michigan, where snowfall was expected to reach 46cm in some areas, an ice storm left about 310,000 homes and businesses without power on Sunday, most of them in the south-east of the state.

Large areas of Detroit were also without power on Sunday, utility company DTE Energy said.

It was working to have 90 per cent of outages restored by today, DTE spokesman Carly Getz said in a statement. The weight of ice on power lines, coupled with high winds, caused more than 1,000 power lines to fall in Detroit and Wayne county, DTE said.

The worst of the snow was focused on the Upper Great Lakes, with Green Bay, Wisconsin, experiencing its second-largest snowstorm, with 60cm falling as of Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service said. The weather agency also warned of potential coastal flooding along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and Illinois.

In Chicago, residents were warned that waves could reach as high as 5.5m, the Associated Press news agency reported.

For the twin cities of Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota, the April monthly record for snowfall of 55cm was surpassed last Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

Two tornadoes tore up trees and ripped apart homes in Greensboro and Reidsville, North Carolina, killing a motorist who was hit by a tree, according to Greensboro's city manager, local media reported.

The storms stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest and were moving into the north-east and New England.

Record low temperatures were expected in Oklahoma City yesterday at minus 1 deg C, and in Kansas City, Missouri, at minus 4 deg C.

Last Friday, the weather system produced 17 reports of tornadoes in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas, with four people injured and 160 buildings damaged in a possible tornado in north-west Arkansas, local media reported.

The weather was blamed for two traffic deaths in western Nebraska and Wisconsin, according to National Public Radio.

The storms also killed a one-year-old girl when a tree fell on a recreational vehicle where she was sleeping, the sheriff's office in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, said.

By Sunday night, 1,804 flights had been cancelled into or out of US airports, the website flightaware.com said, including 148 flights in or out of the Minneapolis-St Paul airport.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2018, with the headline 'Storms unleash tornadoes, record snow in parts of US'. Print Edition | Subscribe