David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Rare Late November Tornado Touches Down in Illinois, Significant Damage, Injuries

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Monday, November 22, 2010

Photo: Nicole Bradley

Destruction lies in the wake of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that ripped through parts of the Midwest Monday.

Among the hardest hit, northern Illinois, where there were several reports of tornado touchdowns and significant damage.

 News sources are reporting at least three children were hurt in Caledonia, Illinois, when their school

Photo: The Rockford Register-Star

 bus was flipped in the severe storms.  There have been no reports as to the extent of their injuries.

 CNN is reporting Caledonia’s town hall was destroyed when the storms blew through.  Elsewhere in the town, at least one home was completely destroyed and power was knocked out to about 500 residents.  There was significant damage done to several other homes and businesses in that area.

 Severe weather was also reported in Wisconsin where meteorologists from the National Weather Service will have to determine if a tornado touched down there.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Powerful Hurricane Earl Has U.S. In His Sight

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Officials in North Carolina announced an evacuation for the Ocracoke Island beginning at 5 a.m.  NBC News is reporting tourists are being ordered to leave the barrier island which is only accessible by ferry.  At this time, year-round residents on the Ocracoke Island are being urged to evacuate but have the option to stay.  That could change if the powerful storm shifts from its current path.

Hurricane Earl, a powerful Category 4 hurricane is forcing officials up and down the east coast to get a plan ready in case the monster storm makes landfall.

On Tuesday, NBC News reported gusty winds from Earl’s outer fringes are creating waves that are pounding the Grand Turk shore. 

“We can hear the waves crashing against the reef really seriously,” Kirk Graff, owner of the Captain Kirks Flamingo Cove Marina told NBC News, Tuesday.  “Anybody who hasn’t secured their boats by now is going to regret it.”

The hurricane’s wrath is two-fold this go around.  First, the usual damage and risk of injury or death that comes with any powerful hurricane.  But Earl is whipping up a second problem.  His expected arrival comes on the heels of the busy Labor Day Weekend; beach-front businesses usually do a great deal of business on a hot, sunny Labor Day Weekend.  But with a powerful force of nature eyeing North Carolina’s coast, tourists appear to be checking out.

Forecasters say it’s too soon to know exactly what path Earl with take over the next few days.  The likely track would take the storm’s center just along the east coast, possibly making partial landfall somewhere along North Carolina’s coastline.  This storm doesn’t appear to be taking direct aim at the east coast.  But, as it rides north, just barley hugging the coastline by Thursday night, coastal areas can expect hurricane conditions.

But at the same time don’t forget, these storms can, and often do, change paths.  Hurricanes are very unpredictable and can change at any time.  Everyone along the east-coast, including places like North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware should keep a close eye on this storm as it may affect those areas with powerful hurricane-force winds, storm surge and flooding.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alex Strengthens Again To Tropical Storm Status As It Moves Into Gulf

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Monday, June 28, 2010

The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center [Sunday, June 27, 2010 – 10 PM CDT] shows Alex has gained strength over the warm Gulf waters and is once again classified as a tropical storm.

Tropical systems gain their strength from warm water and weaken as they move over land.

Alex made landfall Saturday afternoon in Belize, and is currently moving into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Forecasters believe Alex will be able to gain enough strength to reach hurricane status before making landfall in northeastern Mexico or the southern coastal areas of Texas later this week.

Alex Could Push Oil Onshore Along Gulf Coast

No one is quite certain how Alex will affect coastal states as millions of gallons of oil continue to pour into the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week, forecasters feared Alex’s track could push it west of the BP oil spill but close enough that it could cause major problems for the clean-up effort in the Gulf.

Now, with the projected track further to the west, experts say the chances Alex would cause serious problems for the Gulf coast’s already desperate oil woes are low.

With that said, tropical systems are very unpredictable and can change course at any time to people along the Gulf coast should still monitor the latest developments as Alex approaches.

Tropical systems rotate counter-clockwise around the center of circulation, or eye.  With the storm projected to move to the west of the BP oil spill, that counter-clockwise flow could push the oil north closer to the coastal states.

Another factor to consider is the storm surge, which pushes Gulf water inland, often flooding coastal areas.  With oil mixed in with that Gulf water, it could leave behind a thick coat of oil on the beaches, streets, neighborhoods and flooded basements.

It’s unclear what kind of clean-up effort this would require on land but many fear it could be even more devastating for the coastal areas, where the oil spill is already hurting local tourism and economies, businesses and residents.

I’ll continue to follow the latest with this developing storm and examine what could happen as Tropical Storm Alex churns toward the Gulf.

June 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Least 5 Killed In Midwest Tornado Outbreak

By: David Shepherd [ dshepherd@wtwo.com ] –  Sunday, June 06, 2010

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes plow through the Midwest overnight killing at least 5 people and leaving a path of destruction 100 yards wide.

In Millbury, Ohio, rescue workers continue their search for victims in the rubble of shattered homes Sunday.  It’s too soon to tell whether anyone else is missing.

The storms hit around 11 p.m. Saturday night with heavy rain, wind, hail and tornadoes.  The storm swept through a small farm town,

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narrowly missing a heavily populated suburb of Toledo.

The violent storms damaged at least 50 homes and another 50 were severely damaged.  School buses and police cars were tossed in a mile long trail of devastation.

5 people, including 1 child, were killed.  Police say, among those killed, a person standing outside of the police department and a motorist.

In Michigan, it was a terrifying night as violent weather ripped off siding on a nuclear plant.

Nuclear Plant Automatically Shut Down as Storms Blew Through

Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant

Severe storms that blew through Michigan caused damage to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant in the southeastern part of the state.  Per design, the plant shut

down as the high winds ripped off siding from one of the buildings there.

Investigators

were called in to inspect the plant to make sure there was no further damage.  A public information officer for Monroe County tells NBC News the plant was expected to go back into operation soon.

Power was knocked out to about 35,000 people nearby during the storms but it’s not clear if it was directly related to the shutdown of the nuclear power plant.

In Dundee, Michigan, 11 people were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.  Meteorologists with the National Weather Service are looking into reports of a tornado touchdown there.

More than 12 people were hurt in Dwight, Illinois where 10 homes and 40 mobile homes were destroyed.

June 7, 2010 Posted by | Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illinois Tornado Outbreak

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] –  Sunday, June 6, 2010

At least 12 tornadoes have reportedly touched down in central Illinois.

Damage reports are coming in from several areas in Illinois.  No injuries have been immediately reported.

The storms began around 7:45 p.m. central time.  Tornadoes touched down in Elmwood, Peoria, East Peoria, Washington, and Hanna City, according to the Peoria Journal Star.

Severe damage has been reported on the ground near Kankakee, Ill, apparently caused by a tornado.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment