Death toll climbs after U.S. tornado outbreak, major damage in 12 states
Monday, November 18, 2013, 11:38 AM -
Dozens of tornadoes and intense thunderstorms swept across the U.S. Midwest on Sunday, killing at least six people, causing extensive damage in several Illinois communities and darkening downtown Chicago.
"A lot of people have a pile of rubble, still. I don't have anything. My whole... It's gone. I don't know where it went," said one resident in Washington, Illinois, one of the hardest-hit communities from the storms.
A twister obliterated entire neighbourhoods in Washington, flipping vehicles, uprooting trees, and ripping down power lines.
Washington's Mayor Gary Manier says people are showing their goodness amid the adversity.
"Devastation, sadness, people that lost everything. I've served 13 years, I never would have dreamed something like this would be something that I was tasked to try to help," Manier says. "Our residents are so resilient. We're a volunteer-based community that reaches out for neighbours, and, as I was heading through this subdivision at one point yesterday, the people weren't worried about what they lost, they were worried about their neighbours. They were searching-- you know not only the fire and rescue - the neighbours were searching for neighbours."
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Mid-broadcast in Peoria, Illinois, news anchors had to cut their coverage and evacuate.
"We need to go off the air. We will be back when we can," they reported.
Severe winds flipped a car into the patio area of a Starbucks in Indiana, blowing out the windows of the building.
As the rain and high winds slammed into the Chicago area, officials at Soldier Field evacuated the stands and ordered the Bears and Baltimore Ravens off the field.
Fans were allowed back to their seats shortly after 2 pm, and the game resumed after about a two-hour delay.
Earlier, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued a warning to fans, urging them "to take extra precautions and...appropriate measures to ensure their personal safety."
The high winds from St. Louis to Wisconsin to Ohio knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, most notably 390,000 in Michigan alone.
According to the National Weather Service's website, a total of 68 tornadoes struck, most of them in Illinois.
Meteorologists say the total might fall because emergency workers, tornado spotters and others often report the same tornado.
The storm also roared into southern Ontario where flooding rains, severe thunderstorms and damaging winds were reported.
Are November tornadoes common?
Since the 1980s, November has seen only four "high risk situations" where severe weather, including tornado outbreaks, was considered highly probable in the United States.
None of those systems produced less than 17 tornadoes, more than Ontario's entire annual average.
According to The Weather Channel's Severe Weather Expert Dr. Greg Forbes, the second half of October, and particularly November, can often be a second season for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.
"In many ways, this is the counterpart to spring, when strong fronts and upper-air systems march across the United States. When enough warm, moist air accompanies these weather systems, the unstable conditions yield severe thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes," said Forbes on The Weather Channel website on Sunday.
With files from The Associated Press