Tornadoes twist through the Midwest - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Severe weather likely won't form derecho, NWS states

Storm damage in Rochester, MN. (Source: KIMT/CNN) Storm damage in Rochester, MN. (Source: KIMT/CNN)
A barn destroyed by severe weather in Rochester, MN. (Source: KIMT/CNN) A barn destroyed by severe weather in Rochester, MN. (Source: KIMT/CNN)
A storm system that had the Midwest on edge offers a moderate threat to the east coast. (Source: NOAA) A storm system that had the Midwest on edge offers a moderate threat to the east coast. (Source: NOAA)

(RNN) – Severe weather traveled swiftly through the Midwest Wednesday, spawning tornadoes, severe winds, heavy rain, flash flooding and hail.

The weather phenomenon called derecho, which meteorologists feared would form, had not developed as of early Thursday, making it unlikely it would happen with this system, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center.

The storm system was barreling toward the Mid-Atlantic Thursday.

The Storm Prediction Center on Wednesday placed Indiana, Illinois and Ohio under the "high risk" category of severe weather from Wednesday night through Thursday. As a result, severe thunderstorm watches had been issued throughout Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin through early Thursday.

Other major cities like Detroit, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were under moderate risks for severe weather beginning Thursday morning. According to the National Weather Service, there was a risk of severe weather hitting as many as 64 million people.

Henry and Wood counties in Ohio had many reports of storm damage, mainly trees and power lines down, but no injuries were reported, WTOL reported. There were also tornado and flash flood warnings in the Toledo, OH, area.

Ohioans reported wind damage and heavy rains.

The Storm Prediction Center also issued tornado watches for western Maryland, central and eastern Ohio, southwest Pennsylvania and northern Virginia.

In Kendall County, IL, 50 miles southeast of Chicago, the National Weather Services' Chicago office warned of wall clouds that could produce possible tornadoes, according to CNN. Tornadoes have already been reported in Winnebago County, IL, but no damage was reported.

"Very strong wind signature on radar, possibly up to 70-80 mph, near/just south of Crete, IL. Stay away from windows! #ilwx," said NWS Chicago on Twitter.

The severe weather caused the airlines to cancel more than 50 flights at Chicago's Midway Airport and more than 360 flights at O'Hare International.

More than 38,000 ComEd customers in the Chicago area found themselves without power.

A photo of the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, being struck by lightning circulated on social media.

And a home in Lemont, IL, about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, caught fire when lightning struck. The home was fully engulfed, but local media outlets reported the family inside was able to evacuate the home safely.

The severe weather also postponed the Chicago White Sox game against the Toronto Blue Jays, but did not cancel game one of the Stanley Cup Finals as the Chicago Blackhawks  played the Boston Bruins.

The severe weather in the Midwest began early Wednesday afternoon with a "confirmed tornado" in Wright County, Iowa. The storms destroyed businesses and a home and damaged others, but no injuries or fatalities were reported. The Associated Press reports that more than 1,200 citizens are without power.

The line of powerful thunderstorms that was predicted to hit the areas is known as a derecho.

A derecho is a widespread and long-lasting storm that comes with fast-moving thunderstorms and rain, and also can bring damaging high winds, hail and in some cases produce tornadoes.

According to NOAA, a storm may be classified as a derecho if the storm extends more than 240 miles and contains wind gusts of more than 58 mph.

"The NWS Storm Prediction Center is forecasting the development of widespread damaging winds, and a few strong tornadoes, over parts of the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley," the service said Wednesday

Wind speeds of 60 or 70 mph can uproot trees, snap off large branches and bring down utility poles and wires. Due to the widespread nature of these wind gusts, power outages can also be far-reaching, according to AccuWeather.

In June 2012, a derecho carved a 60-mile path of destruction from Illinois to Virginia. The storm caused at least $1 billion in damages and killed 13 people.

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