January of 2008 has featured days that people in the Midwest would like to forget. January tornadoes ripped through several states. Destruction has been great, and with the tornadoes, fueled by warm moist air, flooding has been widespread.
Eight people are confirmed dead from both the tornadoes and the flooding. The death toll is expected to rise. Among the dead are two young children who were unable to escape a car that was submerged in Indiana. Five of the eight deaths are attributed to the flooding.
More than 5 inches of rain fell in parts of Indiana. The amount of moisture was increased as the rain caused snows to melt, and many streams and rivers in the area have topped their banks to near record flood levels. Mandatory evacuations have been issued for areas downstream of Norway Dam in Indiana.
Homes and buildings were destroyed in several areas of Arkansas. One farmer in Appleton, Ark. reported that one of his cows was carried nearly a mile, though it survived.
Another tornado touched down in Northwest Tennessee, destroying a barn and interrupting power. No widespread damage was reported from the Tennessee twister.
Wind gusts of up to 63 mph were recorded in Ohio, and gusts of 75 mph were felt in NY State.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the national weather service had issued tornado warnings or watches in 7 states, including Missouri, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Tornadoes were reported in most of these states. Flood warnings remain in effect on Wednesday, in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, according to the Weather Service.
Hundreds of people throughout the region were evacuated due to both the tornadoes and flooding, many of the evacuees being rescued by boat.
The warm air that is causing the tornadoes is from a high-pressure area off of Bermuda, which is replacing the normal cold arctic air that comes in from Canada. The unusual January tropical air has warmed the east, setting record highs of high 60’s to low 70’s in cities such as Boston, MA, Atlantic City, NJ, and Syracuse, NY.
Wednesday morning, thunderstorms in NY State, caused by the front, disrupted power to some 70,000 homes and businesses.
As the warm air mass continues, the threat of continued tornadoes and floods remains, and watches and warnings are still posted. People living in the listed states are advised to tune into their local weather stations for announcements, and to be prepared to seek shelter immediately.