Extreme weather unleashed, battering nation's midsection as it rolls toward East Coast
ST. LOUIS — A powerful spring storm system stretching from southern Texas to northern Michigan unleashed a wave of weather extremes on the Midwest on Thursday and threatened to bring its mix of hard rains, high wind and severe thunderstorms to the East by the weekend.
The massive system was wreaking havoc from the Rockies to the Rust Belt. Up to a foot of snow was expected in parts of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Snow and ice closed highways in Colorado and Wyoming. Rivers surged beyond their banks from downpours in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.
Tornadoes caused scattered damage in Oklahoma. Hail caused a wreck that injured a high school teacher and her students.
Lightning temporarily knocked out a nuclear power plant. Rain caused a sinkhole that devoured three cars in Chicago.
In the Plains and Midwest, seemingly every community was under some sort of watch or warning.
Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, said the storm's biggest punch had come from its intense rainfall: “There's been a general 3 to 6 inch swath of rain from portions of Oklahoma all the way up to southern Wisconsin.”
The system will thin out as it heads east but could still spell trouble in the Appalachian Mountain region on Friday and in some spots along the East Coast by Friday night, Sosnowski said.
In Clarksville, Mo., a small, scenic Mississippi River town about 60 miles north of St. Louis, about 100 people were working feverishly to build a makeshift levee of gravel, plastic overlap and sandbags in a bid keep downtown dry. The heavy rain caused a sudden surge in the river, with a crest expected by early Sunday.
“I'm confident it will work, but I'm not confident we're going to get it done in time,” Clarksville resident Richard Cottrell, 64, said of the sandbag levee. “It's a race against the clock.”
City Clerk Jennifer Calvin said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was bringing in 500,000 additional sandbags, but the nearest available gravel had to be trucked in from nine miles away, and there weren't enough available trucks to expedite the effort.
The Mississippi is expected to crest 8 to 12 feet above flood stage at several spots in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. The Missouri River was also expected to exceed flood stage by up to 10 feet at some Missouri locations.
Other rivers were rising quickly, too.
The town of Wyoming, Mich., evacuated about 25 homes in the path of the flooding Grand River. The Grand Rapids suburb called in all available police, firefighters and public works employees to help with sandbagging.
Flooding from all-night rain storms forced authorities to close sections of several major expressways around Chicago, canceled classes at some schools and scrapped around 550 flights at O'Hare International Airport.
The storm-swollen Chicago River was being allowed to flow into Lake Michigan, in part to relieve sewer backups.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ramping up e-cigarette voltage may be more hazardous to health
- Arizona hospital tests brain tumor drugs by giving patients dose, then operating
- Obama to seek protection of wilderness designation for Alaska refuge
- New York father kils 3 generations of family, himself
- Snowstorm crawls up coast, hitting New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, parts of Pennsylvania
- Gunfire kills 3 at party in vacant house in Omaha
- Rosetta spacecraft providing data on its comet traveling partner
- Grandma thwarts Oregon purse-snatcher who can’t shake her off car
- Marine Corps’ general outlines priorities, vision
- Vanderbilt University gang-rape defense points to campus culture
- Boy, 13, arrested in fatal stabbing at David Wark Griffith Middle School in East Los Angeles