Strong winds and baseball-sized hail caused widespread damage
north of Omaha, Nebraska, Washington County officials said.
The severe weather halted flights at Omaha's Eppley Airfield for
hours, which reported hail and strong wind gusts, and heavy rain
caused flash flooding that closed area streets.
Storm chasers reported at least eight unconfirmed tornado
touch-downs in Nebraska, one in Iowa and another in Wyoming, the
National Weather Service said.
Hail, ranging from golf ball to tennis ball size, also pelted parts
of Wyoming, the northern half of Nebraska and the southwestern
corners of South Dakota and Iowa, the National Weather Service said.
Voting in Iowa's primary election was suspended late on Tuesday
afternoon in Pottawattamie County and Montgomery County as poll
workers, along with voters, sought shelter.
Winds reported at up to 90 mph (145 kph) tore roofs off two motels
in Missouri Valley, Iowa.
A derecho - a long-lived, wide line of thunderstorms that produces
damaging winds - threatened the region on Tuesday night and is
expected to move east into Wednesday morning, said AccuWeather.com
senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
"These storms can knock down trees, cause power outages and travel
mayhem for the Wednesday morning commute," he said.
National Storm Prediction Center forecaster Bill Bunting in Norman,
Oklahoma, said the strongest storms on Tuesday could produce
tornadoes, with the possibility of a tornado rated EF-2 or higher
and winds peaking at 135 mph (217 kph) or more.
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A tornado watch was in effect on Tuesday night for much of Nebraska,
southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri, and central Iowa was under a
flash flood warning, the weather service said.
On Wednesday, the storms were expected to move into eastern
Missouri, central Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, southern Ohio, parts
of Tennessee and West Virginia, forecasters said. AccuWeather.com
said the storms could bring 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) of rain, with
flash flooding possible in some areas.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago, Katie Knapp Schubert in
Omaha and Kay Henderson in Des Moines; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Jim
Loney and Sandra Maler)
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