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Storms leave power outages, flooding, flight delays in central U.S.

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people were without power on Tuesday after a deadly storm that brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and heavy rain to the central United States.

Illinois was particularly hard hit as flooding, downed trees and fires caused by lightning strikes snarled traffic, cut power and delayed or canceled hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago.

"It's been a ride. This was a lot of wind and a lot of lightning," said ComEd spokeswoman Kim Morris-Johnson.

About 400,000 ComEd customers lost power in the storm and 153,000 remained without power on Tuesday afternoon, mainly in the region south of Chicago, the company said.

Iowa also took a direct hit, with hail measuring 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 cm) in diameter and peak winds of 90 mph (145 kph) recorded, said National Weather Service spokesman Pat Slattery. Cars were damaged and windows were broken by the hailstorms, the NWS said.

Two men died in northern Indiana early on Tuesday during the storm, according to officials. One of the men died when a tree fell on a mobile home in Kosciusko County, the sheriff's department said.

Another person died in Linn County, Iowa, the sheriff's office there said, when a building collapsed in heavy winds.

Authorities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday afternoon recovered the body of a 17-year-old boy who was swept into a storm drain on Monday night after heavy rains hit the area, said Greg Buelow, the city's public safety spokesman.

Cedar Rapids received 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of rain on Sunday and Monday, leaving the ground saturated even before the Monday afternoon storm, Buelow said.

Slattery said the storm system triggered a "mini-tornado outbreak" in northern Missouri, including one in the Kansas City metropolitan area that toppled several trees onto roadways. Twisters also damaged homes in Nebraska and Iowa, he said.

In southeast Michigan, about 140,000 DTE Energy customers lost power at the height of the storm because of high winds and lightning and 90,000 were without service on Tuesday afternoon.

At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, more than 200 flights were canceled and 600 delayed on Monday night because of the storm, according to Flightaware.com.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

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