Tornadoes and strong winds wreak havoc on the central United States.


Winds ripped off roofs, overturned vehicles, shut down a portion of an interstate highway, and even forced the evacuation of some air traffic controllers from the Rockies to the Great Lakes on Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, at least 55 reports of hurricane-force thunderstorm wind gusts of more than 75 mph were reported over the Great Plains and Midwest, the highest ever recorded in the United States in a single day. Throughout the day, some 300 severe wind reports were received across the regions, with advisories affecting at least 80 million people.

On Wednesday, over 20 tornado reports were received in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records, a tornado in southeastern Minnesota was the first ever registered in the state in December.

The storms were propelled by record temperatures that extended considerably further north than usual for this time of year. "I've been doing this for 30 years, we're seeing things we've never seen before," CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said.

According to PowerOutage.us, more than 530,000 power outages were recorded in the impacted areas as of 8 a.m. ET Thursday. The states with the most outages are Wisconsin and Michigan.

Severe thunderstorm watches and warnings were lifted overnight, but severe winds with gusts of up to 70 mph remained in effect for areas of the Great Lakes region on Thursday.

The storm outbreak on Wednesday came only days after an eight-state tornado outbreak that featured the worst December tornado in US history.

A storm that rocked the west-central Wisconsin community of Stanley Wednesday evening badly damaged multiple homes and other buildings, according to photos issued by municipal police Thursday morning.

In the city of around 3,500 inhabitants, streets and yards were covered with trash. The brick wall of one structure collapsed onto the street.

"We are glad to announce that the storm that rapidly rushed over" the city "only resulted in property damage," Stanley police wrote on Facebook. There were no reported injuries.

Concerns about strong winds prompted officials in northern Michigan, where the majority of the state's power outages were reported, to temporarily prohibit high-profile vehicles such as tractor-trailers from traversing the Mackinac Bridge connecting the Upper and Lower peninsulas, according to the state transportation department.

According to the weather service, many locations in Colorado, including the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, had wind gusts of 100 mph or higher on Wednesday. Winds blowing up to 107 mph in Lamar toppled tractor-trailers, ripped off roofs, and brought down trees, according to Mayor Kirk Crespin.




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