Widespread Storm Damage in Ohio, Mississippi Valleys

April 20, 2011; 9:18 AM ET
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Lightning produced this vivid display in the mountains of western Pennsylvania Tuesday night. Photo submitted by <a href="http://www.Facebook.com/AccuWeather">AccuWeather.com Facebook</a> fan Ronald S.

Residents across the Ohio and mid-Mississippi valleys will spend today cleaning up after Tuesday's major outbreak of severe weather left widespread damage.

Unlike the multi-day outbreak that brought last week to a close, destructive tornadoes did not dominate Tuesday's severe weather event.

There were still in excess of 30 tornado sightings on Tuesday, but the majority of the more than 700 severe weather reports pertained to damaging winds and hail.

Fortunately, no fatalities or serious injuries have yet to be reported.

The potential definitely existed for bodily harm during Tuesday's major severe weather outbreak with numerous homes, other buildings and trees damaged.

One unconfirmed tornado tore through an area near Elsmere, Ky., which is located just south of Cincinnati.

The twister severely damaged the Interstate 75-northbound rest area, blew over semi-trucks, downed numerous trees and flipped four mobile homes off their foundation.

Another tornado slammed Girard, Ill. About 15 homes in the area suffered damage and two barns were destroyed, according to the State Journal-Register newspaper from Springfield.

Roughly three-quarters of the 15 homes are likely beyond repair.

While no major city was damaged by a tornado on Tuesday, the same cannot be said for thunderstorms that unleashed strong winds and hail.

Gusty thunderstorm winds tore some bricks and pieces of a roof off a building in downtown Nashville. A dozen or so trees were also brought down around the city.

Another strong thunderstorm ripped a roof off a strip mall building in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Downtown St. Louis was pounded by hail that measured up to the size of mothballs. Larger hailstones, half-dollar sized, slammed an area near the city's southwestern suburb of Fenton.

Another thunderstorm unleashed golf ball-sized hail on Fort Worth, Texas.

A tornado came close to touching down in Little Rock, Ark. A funnel cloud was sighted south of the city's airport. A tornado was later reported near Bevis Corner, Ark., which is located southeast of Little Rock.

Ingredients Behind the Outbreak

A cold front, aided by energy from the jet stream, was the culprit behind Tuesday's major outbreak of severe weather.

The violent thunderstorms erupted as the front, with noticeably cooler air in its wake, sliced into the unusual warmth that surged northward into the Midwest.

The vast differences between the air masses separated by the front was evident by examining high temperatures across Missouri.

While warming to a record breaking 88 degrees in St. Louis on Tuesday, temperatures were held to the 40s in Kansas City.

A repeat of last week's deadly tornado outbreak was avoided since the direction of winds at the surface was not dramatically different from winds higher up in the atmosphere, which is referred to as wind shear to meteorologists.

The stage is once again set for severe weather to ignite today from the mid-Atlantic to the Deep South, but conditions are not ripe for another major outbreak similar to Tuesday's.

As today's violent thunderstorms rumble, the Ohio and mid-Mississippi valleys will welcome drier and cooler weather as cleanup operations begin.

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