Tornadoes, Thunderstorms Devastate Midwest; 6 Reported Dead, More Injured
Intense weather ravaged sections of the Midwest as numerous tornadoes and severe storms spread through cities on Sunday, leaving at least six dead and dozens injured, as well as widespread damage throughout the affected area.
Washington, Illinois, one of the more heavily affected cities, braved tornadoes and thunderstorms riddled with hail and destructive winds. Overall, the storms have leveled hundreds of homes and businesses. “The whole neighborhood’s gone,” said Washington local Michael Perdun, who hid in his basement with his daughter and noted that, in seconds, his neighborhood was completely leveled.
In Washington, a team of 10 firefighters and three vehicles was dispatched by the Illinois National Guard to act as a rescue and relief team.
“I couldn’t even tell what street I was on,” Washington Alderman Tyler Gee reported to WLS-TV. “Just completely flattened.”
Furthermore, surrounding areas continued to be at risk. More than 70 tornadoes were spotted throughout Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, according to a report by the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
Storm Prediction Center director Russell Schneider estimated that “approximately 53 million people in 10 states are at significant risk for thunderstorms and tornadoes.”
“People can fall into complacency because they don’t see severe weather and tornadoes,” warned meteorologist Matt Friedlein, stressing that although conditions may not look threatening they are subject to quick changes. Storms were reported to travel at speeds up to 60 mph.
Laura Furgione, deputy director of the National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, paralleled Friedlein’s message. “Our primary message is this is a dangerous weather system that has the potential to be extremely deadly and destructive,” she said, encouraging residents to “get ready now.”
During the initial storms, a Chicago Bears game was interrupted and delayed, having fans relocated and sheltered for hours until the weather was calmer.