A powerful storm system that moved through the nation's midsection over the weekend caused what may be a record-breaking seven tornadoes in Wisconsin, officials said Monday.
"It's one of the most significant tornado outbreaks in April," said Rich Mamrosh, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. He said if confirmed, the number of Sunday night storms may have broken a record for a single day in April in the state -- the previous record was six. Mamrosh said a strong low pressure system moved from South Dakota to northern Wisconsin Sunday, moving warm, moist air into the state, which was followed by a cold front, producing the storms.
A tornado in Merrill in the north-central portion of the state causing widespread damage to homes and businesses. Three people were taken to area hospitals. Storms caused damage in other portions of the Midwest and south over the weekend. Iowa governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency after a storm Saturday that destroyed over half the town of Mapleton, but left no one seriously injured among its 1,200 residents.
The peak U.S. tornado season lasts from March until early July, the period when warm, humid air often has to thrust upward against cool, dry air.
Further south in Texas, thunderstorms, high winds and hail on Sunday night blew down trees, tore off roofs and left some traffic lights not working in the Dallas area. In Prosper, a town of 10,500 located north of Dallas, golf ball-sized hail damaged a "tremendous number" of cars. Many houses and businesses in the town are missing west-facing windows, and a number of fences are down. Some Dallas-area schools canceled classes Monday because of a loss of electricity, including the Alvarado Independent School district. Much of Tennessee faces rough weather Monday when a cold-front moves in after a weekend of record-breaking high temperatures.
High winds are expected to push into Memphis and West Tennessee by late morning, with the front moving across the state all day long. Brittney Whitehead, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Nashville, said the area faces a slight risk of severe thunderstorms and a 10 percent chance for tornadoes.
The storm front follows a weekend of unseasonably high temperatures, include a new record of 91 Saturday in Nashville. It was 86 Sunday. (Yahoo)
Wildfires and tornadoes highlighted the severe weather conditions over the weekend, wreaking havoc across the country. While some parts of the country are still suffering from the cold, Texas is feeling the heat from wildfires that scorched more than 230,000 acres Sunday and destroying about 80 homes and buildings.
One western Texas blaze rushed across 20 miles in 90 minutes, burning 60,000 acres in Fort Davis. The county emergency management coordinator described it as a "firestorm" in a report, saying it was the first fire to scare him in his 13 years of experience. Crews and equipment from 25 states were on site battling more than a dozen blazes across Texas as of Monday morning. One firefighter was reported critically injured. Reports said that the wildfire danger could be among the worst in the state's history.
Extreme drought conditions and gusty winds, along with high temperatures, have fanned wildfires for the past week. However, not much relief is in sight so far, as the drought conditions will continue through at least the middle of next week. Minimal amount of showers could be expected by the middle of next week, which will do little to help firefighters. In addition, high winds are forecast for Tuesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, there have been reports of tornadoes sweeping across the Midwest, including one that hit Mapleton, a town of 1,200 people in western Iowa and 7 tornadoes across Wisconsin. (AccuWeather)