At least six people lost their lives in the small town of Vilonia, Arkansas Sunday after a tornado spawned by a powerful storm system struck. The small community is said to be facing a “mass casualty” situation. Nearby interstate 40 was closed in both directions Sunday night after numerous vehicles were overturned. A massive storm system moved through Arkansas Sunday evening as several tornadoes were being reported across the state. Two people were killed in the small city of Quapaw, Oklahoma on Sunday. A police dispatcher in Ottawa County confirmed the deaths and reported that a search and rescue operation was getting underway in Quapaw. Tornado reports were also coming in Sunday night in portions of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri according to the National Weather Service.
FEMA said on Sunday that there was a real threat for life-threatening, damaging storms and tornadoes for the central part of the country Sunday through Monday and possibly even into Tuesday for some areas. The agency warned people living in many Midwestern and southern states to be on their toes as the threat of severe weather was due to intensify. That threat includes the possibility of tornadoes developing. The risk for twisters will rise throughout the day on Monday form a large swatch of land stretching from Omaha, NE to northern Louisiana. Even if tornadoes do not develop, there is a good probability that hail the size of baseballs will develop and wind gusts could reach hurricane-force.
Authorities in Cherokee County, Kansas said a tornado struck Baxter Springs and injured several people and did extensive damage to homes and businesses. First responders there were going door-to-door to check on the well-being of over 4,000 residents. Television footage in Little Rock, Arkansas showed many badly damaged buildings and vehicles Sunday night as a large tornado ripped through several suburbs west of the city of Little Rock. Many trees were stripped bare of their leaves and smaller branches.
One of the tornadoes that formed Sunday touched down near Joplin, Missouri where a massive tornado in spring of 2011 claimed the lives of 161 people and injured many others. Luckily that twister missed Joplin.
Ice storms and freezing temperatures have left scores of flights grounded, many vehicles piled up in icy crashes and millions of people stranded in their homes and along roadways in the Midwest. Winter storm Dion is being blamed for the bad weather that is blanketing a large portion of the country. As of Monday morning, over 2,000 flights were canceled nationwide with another 6,000 being delayed due to ice.
In Chicago, temperatures on Monday are going to hover around 16 degrees and with winds of between 12 and 24 miles per hour, the wind chill will drop below zero, making it dangerous to be outside for long. Emergency officials in the Windy City are urging people planning to go the Bears vs Cowboys game at Solider Field this evening to take extra care to bundle up well. The Chicago area received a few inches of snow Sunday night, prompting snowplows to head out early before rush hour to clear snow and ice from city streets and area roadways.
Very cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills are gripping a large part of the West and Midwest. Winter Storm Dion is being forecast to produce sleet, freezing rain and snow in parts of the East on Monday. Dion is the fourth named winter storm of the 2013-14 season. The system dumped more snow and ice on some of the same areas affected by Winter Storm Cleon last week. This latest system is going to cause wintery weather in the Great Lakes area as well as the Northeast Monday. Dion first made an impact in Washington, California and Nevada over the weekend where it caused hundreds of delays and left thousands without power as it dumped snow, rain and sleet.
The National Weather Service reported that large accumulations of ice could occur Monday in portions of Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The NWS also said that unsafe road conditions could cause many accidents and traffic tie-ups in that area as well as in portions of the Midwest.
The arctic blast of cold air that brought with it snow and ice this weekend wreaked havoc on NFL fields and caused highway pileups Monday morning to disrupt commuters trying to make it to work. The wicked winter weather also knocked power out to thousands of homes and caused countless school closings and delays due to icy conditions. Even some federal agencies in the Washington DC area delayed opening times by two hours Monday due to the inclement weather.
Don Marks is the head of marketing and communications for Jarvis Property Restoration a leading disaster recovery contractor working in Michigan and helping customers with flood damage cleanup in Sterling Heights, winter weather related frozen pipes and ice dams that require water damage restoration and repair services. You can learn more online by visiting his Google+ page.