Historic winds battered parts of the Midwest on Thursday after severe weather killed at least one person in Iowa and left nearly 350,000 people without power in Michigan and Wisconsin alone.
Parts of Michigan remained under a high wind warning as of midday Thursday, but the storms were forecast to shift north of the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service.
The historic winds caused clusters of tornadoes Wednesday and downed trees and power lines across the region. Wildfires in Kansas carried smoke and dust into Iowa. The winds caused a semitruck on U.S. Highway 151 in eastern Iowa to roll onto its side, killing the driver, state patrol officers said.
From Colorado to Michigan, more than 400,000 customers were without power Thursday morning, according to the online tracker Poweroutage.us
In Des Moines, the wind gusts reached up to 74 mph, which hadn’t been seen in the city since the 1970s, the local Weather Service office tweeted. Winds on Lake Michigan also reached 74 mph, the Weather Service in Chicago said, and waves reached as high as 15 feet in some areas. In parts of Colorado, winds reached 95 mph.
More from Wednesday’s weather:Tornadoes and 100 mph winds hit Central US; region braces for severe thunderstorms and wildfires
Staff at the Kansas City International Airport had to evacuate the air traffic control tower Wednesday evening, the airport tweeted. The storms also disrupted travel at the Des Moines International Airport.
At least 20 tornadoes were reported in Nebraska and Iowa, according to the Storm Prediction Center. In Plainview, Minnesota, the Weather Service also said a tornado was reported; it would be the first December tornado ever recorded in the state if confirmed, KARE-TV said.
“To have this number of damaging wind storms at one time would be unusual anytime of year,” said Brian Barjenbruch, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Nebraska. “But to have this happen in December is really abnormal.”
The Storm Prediction Center also said Wednesday set a record for the most number of hurricane-force wind gusts – more than 75 mph – in a day at 55. The previous records had all been set in summer months.
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Temperatures on Wednesday were unusually warm in some areas. In Chicago, daily records for Dec. 15 were set at O’Hare and Midway airports at 66 degrees.
Des Moines tied the record for the highest-ever December temperature in Iowa at 74 degrees. Thurman, Iowa, had owned the record for the highest December temperature in the state on Dec. 6, 1939, according to Iowa State climatologist Justin Glisan.
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; Des Moines Register; The Associated Press
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