A powerful storm front churning over Iowa and Nebraska may turn extremely deadly, as night begins to fall on the Heartland states, with huge hail, high winds, tornadoes and massive flooding likely. Even more fearful is the high chance of this kind of storm will turn into a derecho – a long, slow-moving storm hundreds of miles wide that repeatedly strikes an area with multiple storms over several hours before moving on. As the two states only now begin to assess the vast amounts of damage the storm did to them Tuesday evening, states from Texas to Tennessee and upwards into Ohio state at the beast, wondering what it has in store for them.
While the Weather Channel places the tornado threat risk at TOR: CON: 6, meaning there is a moderate chance for tornado development, the lack of funnel clouds doesn’t always mean a safer storm. Winds of up to 85 miles-per-hour tore through Nebraska and Iowa last night, inundating some areas with as much as four inches of rain overnight. When cars on Interstate 29 in western Iowa pulled over to the side of the road because of the lack of visibility, they were pounded by hail the size of baseballs, smashing in their windows as the fearful occupants had no choice but to wait it out and hope for the best.
Program leader Terry Landsvork of the National Weather Service in Valley, Nebraska commented on the horrific sight: “They were driving along Interstate 29, had no place to go, and whether they were driving or pulled over, they just didn’t escape the hail,” he said.
Others back Landsvork’s statement, making it known that this is nowhere near the end of the damage and destruction this storm is bringing.
“This is one of these days we can’t let our guard down,” said forecast operations chief Bill Bunting at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. “It’s unfortunately panning out as we thought it would. This is shaping up as a very dangerous evening.”
Landsvork observed first-hand how harsh this new storm is, and what those in its path can expect over the next 24 hours.
“The storms, we call it training. It’s like a train going down the track. One car goes by, another one follows. That’s what’s happening,” Landsvork said, referring to eastern Nebraska and western Iowa where the storms hit the hardest. “These thunderstorms… keep moving right over the same areas.”
In the Omaha area, rain from the storms have grown so bad that police have pulled our rescue boats to try to save as many residents as possible in the lower-lying areas where the flooding is leaving people stranded.
“It’s just completely flooded these areas, and these homes are now filling up with water in their basement areas, so we’re pulling people out,” said police spokesman James Shade, citing a 95-year-old woman in a wheelchair who was saved from her home as the waters began to fill it.
The storms also belted down on areas of South Dakota and Iowa where many locations hosting the primary elections had to be closed due to bad storms rolling in. “It’s nasty here. You can’t imagine,” said Pottawattamie County Auditor Mary Jo Drake. “It’s as black as the ace of spades.”
In South Dakota, Senate candidate Mike Rounds had his flight diverted from Rapid City to Pierre to avoid being caught in the clutches of the storm.
As the heart of the country prepares to be brutalized by yet another storm, Bunting gave a reminder to people in its path, noting that just because there isn’t a funnel cloud around doesn’t mean the straight-lined winds or this system are no less hazardous.
“As we like to say, it doesn’t have to rotate to be dangerous,” he said.
The storm in lincoln nebraska june 3 2014. pic.twitter.com/CWuvyRx2Pi
— jerry berry (@BerryJerry88) June 4, 2014