Rare January Tornadoes Rip the Midwest

Tornadoes in the Midwest occur year round, even in the winter. And that’s exactly what happened in January of 2008, when tornadoes ravaged parts of the region. The states that dealt with such destructive storms include Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In addition, devastating flooding had occurred in flood-prone areas across the Midwest, including Indiana, which got the brunt of the heavy rains. This kind of weather will certainly in the history books, because it was so unusual for January.

So why have there been tornadoes and heavy rain, not snow, that have been blamed for several deaths? There has been a remarkable surge of warm air oozing into much of the East. In that unseasonably warm air mass, there were plenty of moisture included as well. All of this is the courtesy of a cold front that was pushing eastward. This cold front, which divides warm air and cool air, was part of a strong low pressure system that moved through the northern parts of the Great Lakes region.

While many residents in the eastern half of the country enjoyed spring-like temperatures, a push of moderately cold air began to take place in the Great Plains. When two different air masses collide with one another, with enough moisture in store, swirling clouds that can touch the ground perform. The rotation in clouds while at ground level are called tornadoes. Obviously, this explains the severe weather that caused the lives of two people in Missouri.

That same storm system brought flooding in parts of the Midwest, especially Indiana. A recent snow melt that was leftover from the New Year’s Day snowstorm helped contribute the rising waters along banks of the Wabash River. With heavy rains and saturated grounds, water levels in rivers and creeks begin to creep upward. Residents living in flood-prone areas were forced to evacuate. The Tippecanoe River, which is just north of Lafayette, Indiana, rose to an unbelievable flood stage of 17.83 feet, which shattered records. Three people, including two children, died because of this record-breaking flooding.

Overall, the Midwest and much of the eastern half of the United States got an early taste of spring in 2008. Tornadoes can be difficult to predict, and the best thing to do about them is to be ready. So if severe weather such including tornadoes, heavy snows, or flooding should occur in your area, be prepared to take cover and arrange emergency plans. Doing so will save lives.