12 STRAIGHT DAYS OF DESTRUCTION IN PARTS OF THE USA DUE TO TORNADOES
The tornado screeching across southern Ohio on Monday night triggered a cellphone alert that roused Rich Schlarman. He ignored it. Then came another. That was enough to persuade him to hurry his 83-year-old mother toward the basement.
“We only made it down about four steps when I heard a loud boom,” Mr. Schlarman said. “If we hadn’t made it down as far as we had, we would probably not have made it.”
On Tuesday, his home was a shambles: walls bent, doors tilted, the roof gone — another house crippled amid a stretch of severe weather that has tormented communities from the Rocky Mountains to the Mid-Atlantic in recent weeks.
Now the severe weather had come to Celina, a city of about 10,000 people about 60 miles northwest of Dayton, causing the kind of devastation that has left state after state with ruined buildings and grieving families this spring.
In the last week alone, the authorities have linked tornadoes to at least seven deaths and scores of injuries. Federal government weather forecasters logged preliminary reports of more than 500 tornadoes in a 30-day period — a rare figure, if the reports are ultimately verified — after the start of the year proved mercifully quiet.
The barrage continued Tuesday night, as people across the Midwest took shelter from powerful storms.
A particularly destructive storm splintered homes, ripped up trees and downed power lines southwest of Kansas City. One tornado hit the outskirts of Lawrence, Kan., home to the University of Kansas. The worst damage was reported in nearby Linwood. Twelve people were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with injuries, including broken bones and lacerations from glass, a hospital spokeswoman said. One person was in surgery and was to be kept there overnight.
On the East Coast, tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued in parts of northern New Jersey and on Staten Island in New York.
“From mid-April on, it’s just been on a tear,” said Patrick Marsh, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “What has really set us apart has been the last 10 days or so. The last 10 days took us from about normal to well above normal.”
Tuesday was the 12th consecutive day with at least eight tornado reports, breaking the record, according to Dr. Marsh. The storms have drawn their fuel from two sources: a high-pressure area that pulled the Gulf of Mexico’s warm, moist air into the central United States, where it combined with the effects of a trough trapped over the Rockies, which included strong winds.
“We are flirting in uncharted territory,” Dr. Marsh said of the sustained period of severe weather. “Typically, you’d see a break of a day or two in between these long stretches, but we’re just not getting that right now.”
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