May 17, 2024

Winds tear through Southern Plains; Northeast to see snow

By RICK CALLAHAN and CHRISTOPHER WEBER Associated Press
Parts of the Southern Plains counted the injured and surveyed the damage Monday after tornadoes and other powerful winds swept through, while some Michigan residents faced a fifth consecutive day without power following last week’s ice storm.
In California, the National Weather Service said a series of winter storm systems will continue moving into the state through Wednesday after residents got a brief break from severe weather Sunday.
Parts of the Northeast that have seen little snow this winter were under a winter storm warning. And forecasters warned of continued high winds in parts of the Plains and of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes in the Ohio Valley.
A look at the weather threats around the country:
TORNADO CLEANUP, FORECAST
Police in Norman, Oklahoma, responded Sunday night to storm damage in parts of the city, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City. Officials said there were 12 confirmed weather-related injuries there, none considered critical.
Crews canvassed the damaged area looking for others who might be injured. Possible tornadoes and wind gusts as high as 90 mph (144 kilometers) were reported in Oklahoma, with downed trees and power lines, road closures and damage to homes around Norman and Shawnee.
Frances Tabler, of Norman, told KOCO-TV that she suffered a small cut on her head when a storm hit her home, tearing off much of its roof and sending debris flying. She said it was a miracle her children weren’t hurt, although her daughter was trapped for awhile in a bedroom.
“I could hear the wind coming. All of a sudden all the back windows, where the kids bedrooms are, I could hear them just crashing, busting out. And I got up, and then the wind just threw me back, and I’m screaming,” Tabler told KOCO. “It was just like a blizzard in the house with all the debris flying. I was screaming for my kids.”
A tornado touched down Sunday near Liberal, Kansas, the weather service said, and more than a dozen homes were reported damaged, according to KSNW-TV. One person had minor injuries, the station said.
There were reports of nine tornadoes in Kansas, Oklahoma and northwestern Texas, said Bob Oravec, a lead forecaster for the weather service. Weather service teams planned to survey storm damage Monday to determine the strength of the tornadoes.
The severe weather threat remained Monday, with thunderstorms expected to produce damaging gusts across the Ohio Valley, according to the Storm Prediction Center. At least a few tornadoes are were possible, especially across Ohio on Monday afternoon, the center said. The weather service forecast strong winds Monday in Kansas and Missouri, with gusts topping 60 mph (96 kph).
NORTHEAST SNOWSTORM
While not expecting a blockbuster storm by regional standards, southern New England braced for what could be the most significant snowfall of what has so far been a mild winter.
A winter storm warning covered parts of the Northeast, including Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island, with heavy snow forecast for Monday evening through Tuesday afternoon.
Boston could get 5 inches and a messy Tuesday morning commute, according to the weather service. As much as 10 inches could fall in western Massachusetts, northwest Connecticut and southern Vermont.
MICHIGAN ICE STORM
In Michigan, crews continued to work to restore electricity. Leah Thomas, whose home north of Detroit lost power Wednesday night, finally got her power back late Sunday afternoon.
Thomas said she feels lucky that she and their 17-year-old son were able to stay at her parents’ nearby home, which still had power, while they are in Florida.
With her husband traveling out of town, Thomas said it was up to her to recharge the battery to their home’s backup sump pump Sunday with her car. She went to multiple stores to find a long cable for the task.
Although her basement didn’t flood during the outage, Thomas said Monday morning that she lost all the food in her refrigerator, including about $200 worth of prepared meals she had in her freezer. She said she would have moved her food to her parents’ freezer but did not because DTE Energy had repeatedly notified her that her home’s power would be back on soon.
Instead, it took nearly four days for the power to be restored.
“We did lose all our food because we didn’t realize the outage was going to be so long. DTE kept telling us the power would be back the same day,” Thomas said.
With the local school district on midwinter break, she said, some of their neighbors have been out of town and will return to find a mess from burst water pipes and flooded basements.
“They don’t know what they’re coming home to,” she said.
In hard-hit southeastern Michigan, still reeling from the ice storm and high winds, the state’s two main utilities — DTE Energy and Consumers Energy — reported more than 92,000 homes and businesses without power as of late Monday morning. More than 63,000 of those were DTE customers.
CALIFORNIA GETS A BREAK
California, meanwhile, got a brief break from severe weather after a powerful storm a day earlier swelled Los Angeles-area rivers to dangerous levels, flooded roads and dumped snow at elevations as low as about 1,000 feet (300 meters). The sun came out briefly Sunday in greater Los Angeles, where residents emerged to marvel at mountains to the north and east blanketed in white.
Suburban Santa Clarita, in hills north of Los Angeles, received its first significant snowfall since 1989.
“We went outside and we let our sons play in the snow,” resident Cesar Torres told the Santa Clarita Signal. “We figured, while the snow’s there, might as well make a snowman out of it.”