David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Tornadoes & Hurricane Force Winds Rip Through The Midwest

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NBC NEWS PHOTO: Storms cause damage to a home near Chicago Tuesday morning.

A powerful storm system is moving through the nation’s mid-section.  A low pressure system is sweeping an intense cold front through the Midwest, with blizzard conditions in the extreme north, destructive winds in the Great Lakes region, and tornadoes from Texas to Kentucky.

In Chicago, forecasters predict the storm could be the most powerful to hit Illinois in over 70 years.

As of Tuesday morning, tornado reports have come in from several states.  In Indiana, tornadoes were reported in Kokomo and Wanatah. 

A roof was ripped off of a home in Peotone, Illinois.  The people were injured there.  Forecasters have not confirmed tornadoes yet, however they will be out soon to survey the area and determine what caused the damage.

More than 62,000 customers were without power in Chicago.  More than 40,000 reportedly lost power in Indiana.

Hurricane-force winds are being reported this afternoon in northern Illinois and Indiana and through the Dakotas.  The eastern Great Lakes are expecting waves to reach 25 feet with fears of beach erosion. 

NBC News is reporting 300 flights were canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The National Weather Service said the storm is one of the strongest to hit the region in decades.

“We’re expecting sustained winds on the order of 35 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph throughout the afternoon,” Edward Fenelon, a weather service meteorologist in Romeoville, Ill, told NBC News.  He said the storm’s central pressure is equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

“This is a very different type of event,” Fenelon said. “But that does give an indication of the magnitude of the winds. This isn’t something you see even every year.”

Weather Service Meteorologist Jim Allsopp tells NBC that the storm could be among the worst to hit Illinois in more than 70 years.

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October 26, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hurricane Alex’s Outer Bands Battering South Texas

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It’s the first time a hurricane has churned through the Gulf of Mexico during an oil spill so there are many unknowns tonight as to how Hurricane Alex will affect coastal areas.

Alex strengthened this afternoon as it takes aim at the Texas / Mexico border and it’s expected to strengthen to a Category 2 storm before making landfall Wednesday night.

As of 11 a.m., the National Hurricane Center says Alex was moving WNW at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 80 MPH.

Hurricane warnings have been posted from Baffin Bay, Texas, southward to La Cruz, Mexico.  Tropical storm-force winds are expected in the warned area within the next few hours.

The storm’s rotation poses a risk of tornadoes this evening.  The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for southeastern parts of the Texas coast until 8 p.m. [local time].  Flooding rains, damaging winds sustained at 90 MPH, with higher gusts, can be expected as well as severe thunderstorms, flash floods and tornadoes.

Differing Opinions About Alex’s Impact on Oil Spill

Hurricane Alex is not expected to directly hit the areas currently dealing with the BP oil spill in the Gulf; the storm will pass far to the southwest of the spill.  But meteorologists fear the outer wind fields and rotating feeder-bands could be strong enough to push more oil further inland in coastal areas already devastated by the affects of the spill.  Waves up to 15 feet could crash onto beaches as far away from the impact zone as Florida; possibly pushing the thick crude further onto the white sand beaches that line the Gulf coast.

Other researchers hope the storm will cause the opposite effect; stirring up the oil and pushing it further into the Gulf.

As I mentioned, this is an unprecedented event so no one really knows what the hurricane will do with the millions of gallons of oil spewed so far.

Oil and gas operators in the Gulf have begun evacuating rigs within the path of the hurricane.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement told reporters Tuesday 28 platforms and 3 rigs have been shut down; that’s nearly a quarter of the Gulf’s oil production and 9 percent of its natural gas production.

Rough seas have caused BP to bring their skimming boats to safe harbor, putting a delay into the oil spill clean-up efforts.  While those boats are out of commission, the oil will continue to spill, unchecked, until it’s safe to get the vessels back to the spill site.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Killed In Minnesota Tornadoes This Week

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]Sunday, June 20, 2010

 At least 3 people were killed in Minnesota when a line of intense storms plowed through Thursday evening.

Angie Woodside told The Weather Channel about taking cover in the basement as the tornado approached.  Angie says her mother-in-law, Kathy, 66, refused to go underground despite the warnings.

“She told me she would not go down in one,” Angie Woodside said Friday, the day after Kathy was killed when the tornado picked her up and threw her 200 feet into a field near her home.

In northwestern Minnesota,79-year-old Margie Schulke was killed when the intense twisters destroyed her home with her inside.  58

Courtesy: The Weather Channel, Iwitness Carl Becker

 year old Wes Michaels was also killed when the gas station he owned was leveled by the violent storm.

 In all, 3 people were killed in Minnesota and dozens more were injured in Thursday’s storms. 

Officials report hundreds of homes were damaged by the extreme weather.  The National Weather Service reports 36 tornado sightings Thursday.

Severe storms have wrecked havoc on several mid-west states for several days in a row this week with some states expecting even more this weekend.

Sunday’s Severe Weather Outlook For The Midwest

David Shepherd – Storm Chaser [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

*Note:  The information on the weather blog is not updated regularly.  The forecast is based on data collected early in the day.  For the most up-to-date information on severe weather, consult your local media outlets.

Father’s Day thunderstorms are in the forecast Sunday for the Dakotas, Nebraska, Indiana and northern Kentucky, according to meteorologists. 

Some storms will likely turn severe as they enter a very hot, humid, and unstable air mass. 

Severe storms are expected to pack damaging winds, lightning, hail and isolated tornadoes.  Rainfall estimates of 3 inches for parts of the Midwestern states Sunday.


June 20, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment