Tornadoes Rip Across Midwest, Killing 10
By JOHN O'CONNOR, Associated Press Writer
Swarms of tornadoes killed at least 10 people across the Midwest, shut
down the University of Kansas and caused so much damage in Springfield
that the mayor compared it to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The violent weather started during the weekend with a line of storms
that spawned tornadoes and downpours from the southern Plains to the
On Monday, a second line of storms raked the region, with rain, hail
and fierce wind tearing up trees and homes from Kansas through
Indiana. To the northwest, the vast weather system pulled cold air in
Canada, generating snowstorms that cut off power to thousands and shut
down schools in South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Illinois' capital was hit hard twice in 24 hours, first by a tornado
and then strong wind early Monday that blew debris through the
city. Power lines were down across Springfield, trees uprooted and
windows blown out.
"It's just amazing how devastating it is," Mayor Tim Davlin said
Monday after daylight let him see the extent of damage. "It looks like
the pictures we saw a couple months ago after Katrina."
The tornado that struck Springfield on Sunday evening was one of about
20 that broke out along a 400-mile patch across Missouri and Illinois,
National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Shimon said Monday.
Most major roads into the city were closed, and police searched
damaged homes and businesses for people who could be trapped, said
city spokesman Ernie Slottag. At least 24 people were treated for
Two hotels looked like they were still under construction, with
missing roofs and blown-out windows. A nearby Wal-Mart store had also
lost its roof.
Even the five-story Illinois Emergency Management Agency building was
damaged, its roof partly torn off and the top floor flooded, said IEMA
spokeswoman Patti Thompson. The Capitol lost two windows, and the
governor told nonessential state employees in Springfield they weren't
required to report to work Monday.
Missouri and Kansas were also hit hard by the weekend storms, with at
least nine people killed and hundreds of homes and businesses
destroyed or damaged. Hail as big as softballs pounded parts of the
Bobby Ritcheson, 23, said he watched as a neighbor was killed south of
"The trailer came down right on top of her," Ritcheson said.
Homes were destroyed along a path of more than 20 miles south of St. Louis,
At the University of Kansas, where 60 percent of the buildings were
damaged by weekend storms, Provost David Shulenberger said classes
were canceled Monday because of safety concerns about debris falling
from roofs. The Lawrence campus was littered with trees, roof tiles
and window glass.
Two trees fell through Rhonda Burns' mobile home in Lawrence early
"If the wind had shifted that tree just a few inches, I wouldn't be
talking to you," she said.
Tornadoes also destroyed dozens of homes Sunday in Oklahoma and
"It was over before you knew it," said Greg Kospar, 41, of
Bentonville, Ark. "The house is gone."
In Illinois, the tornado that struck Springfield on Sunday had made a
two-hour pass through central Illinois.
The Chicago area was struck by high wind, with gusts to 70 mph in
suburban Tinley Park, and roofs were blown off apartment buildings in
suburban Bridgeview. Localized flooding was reported in the Chicago
and Quad Cities areas.
Thousands of people were without power in the state Monday morning,
including about 15,000 in the Springfield area, down from about 65,000
at the height of the storms, Thompson said.
Davlin said his brother's restaurant and bar in the nearby town of
Jerome was heavily damaged.
"I had to call him and tell him that his roof was four buildings
away," said the mayor, whose brother was out of town during the storm.
The vast weather system arose as moist air from the Gulf of Mexico
collided with cold Canadian air, said Philip Schumacher of the
National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D. The system dumped 20
inches of snow in parts of western South Dakota and knocked out power
and closed schools as it moved into Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"It is a sign that spring is coming," said Schumacher. "You start
getting stronger low-pressure systems, and they're able to bring in
stronger south winds, which tend to bring up more moisture."
Missouri authorities reported nine people killed, including four whose
bodies were found in the rubble of homes near the town of Renick.
Another storm victim was found in Indiana, where several people had to
be rescued from cars stalled in rapidly rising water. Flood warnings
were posted Monday for large areas of southern and central Indiana.
Kansas was more fortunate, with damage mostly in the north central
part of the state, around the Lawrence and the university area. In the
Independence, KS area, which serves as a 'central command point' for
sheriff and other emergency personnel in the rural s.e. area of the
state officials noted , "we were quite lucky that other than rain and
very strong winds and some hail, most of storm passed on by us.
Associated Press reporters F.N. D'Alessio in Chicago, Noah Trister in
Bentonville, Ark., David Lieb in Sedalia, Mo., Garance Burke and Margaret
Stafford in Kansas City, John Milburn in Lawrence, Kan., and Jim Salter in
St. Louis contributed to this report.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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