Tornadoes Pummel the Midwest
Over the past weekend a series of tornadoes wreaked havoc across the Midwest. The hardest hit states were Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky, with many areas around western Ohio and southern Michigan also experiencing severe winds and heavy rains as a result of the storm systems. The National Weather Service has reported that roughly 65 separate tornadoes touched down, with most of them concentrated in Illinois. That number may drop, but this is still a huge quantity of tornadoes for this region. The latest reports have listed eight dead, hundreds injured, and millions of dollars in property damage. Emergency crews and disaster response services are working in affected areas.
This storm system was predicted several days ahead of time as the National Weather Service and other meteorological organizations monitored volatile atmospheric conditions that were ideal for tornado outbreaks. On Sunday, the NWS issued a ‘high risk’ alert for severe weather in eastern Illinois, Indiana, and parts of Ohio and Michigan. Even Chicago wasn’t spared severe winds and heavy rains that caused damages, impeded roads, and even forced the cancellation of the Bears game at Soldier Field. This early tracking and warning likely saved thousands of lives as tornadoes began touching down Sunday. Though numerous small towns were leveled and property damage to homes and business abounds across the region, the low death toll is no doubt a result of the consistent monitoring and early warning systems.
The unstable atmospheric conditions that facilitated this outbreak of tornadoes are uncommon this time of year, as there is less mingling of warm Gulf air with cold mountain air, so the intensity and breadth of this storm system is all the more surprising. These storms serve as a reminder that severe weather can strike unexpectedly and that ongoing preparation is extremely important. Monitoring weather conditions and having an emergency response plan can save lives during severe weather like that of Sunday. While there is often no way to mitigate the damage to a home or business if it lies in a storm’s path, events like these illuminate the importance of good disaster insurance and preplanning. For those of us in the Midwest, this string of tornadoes has certainly made us more aware of the importance of comprehensive disaster preparation year round.