July 19, 2024

Tornadoes ripped through communities in Michigan on Tuesday evening as severe storms battered the Midwest, officials said, bringing more destruction a day after tornadoes in the southern Plains killed at least one person and damaged dozens of homes.

Officials in Kalamazoo County in Southern Michigan said they were responding to a tornado that struck Portage, a city of about 50,000, leaving streets littered with downed power lines, trees and building debris.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Kalamazoo and the neighboring counties of St. Joseph, Branch and Cass, which were also pummeled by storms and large hail.

At least two tornadoes had swept through the region, the governor said.

There was destruction throughout the Kalamazoo County, including significant damage to a FedEx facility in Portage, according to Andrew Alspach, a spokesman for the Kalamazoo County Office of Emergency Management. FedEx said in a statement that there were no serious injuries at the facility.

Officials in Kalamazoo County could not be immediately reached on Tuesday evening. Roughly 18,000 customers in the county were without power, according to PowerOutage.us.

As storms moved through the region on Tuesday, the Weather Service issued a string of tornado warnings in cities across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

The storms were expected to continue for a third day. Forecasters said roughly 9.5 million people in cities in Ohio and Kentucky, including Columbus, Cincinnati and Louisville, faced an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms on Wednesday, with the possibility of strong tornadoes and large hail, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

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The Weather Service had warned earlier that storms passing over the Midwest on Tuesday would produce heavy rain that may create some localized areas of flash flooding. Urban areas, roads, small streams and low-lying areas were most vulnerable, meteorologists said.

On Monday night, at least 15 tornadoes were reported to have struck parts of the Plains. One tornado that was up to two miles wide ripped through Barnsdall, Okla., a city about 40 miles northwest of Tulsa, killing one person, an Osage County official said.

One Osage County official said it had leveled about a third of the small city, which has a population of about 1,000, and caused multiple injuries. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported that up to 40 homes in the town had been damaged.

The tornado also lifted the roof off a nursing home in Barnsdall, though all residents were accounted for with no injuries or deaths, officials said.

Mayor Johnny Kelley said one person was reported missing.

“We are going through the debris very thoroughly,” Mr. Kelley said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Considering the widespread destruction, it was “shocking” there were so few casualties, he said: “The devastation is pretty substantial.”

The tornado also caused power outages in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. But by early Tuesday, power had been largely restored.

In Bartlesville, Okla., about 20 miles southwest of Barnsdall, city officials said that emergency responders had rescued people trapped at a Hampton Inn and were recovering downed power lines early Tuesday. Only minor injuries had been reported.

Rescue operations were also ongoing at the Osage Nation Reservation, where officials warned residents to stay clear of the roadways and damaged areas.

Johnny Diaz, Judson Jones, John Yoon and Jesus Jiménez contributed reporting.

#Tornadoes #Damage #Michigan #Severe #Storms #Batter #Midwest

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