Update 1:07 a.m.: The dozens of tornadoes and thunderstorms that cut a swath of destruction through the Midwest on Sunday, left at least six people dead and brought winds powerful enough to destroy entire neighborhoods, overturn cars and uproot trees, Associated Press reported. The winds, which injured dozens, also prompted officials to evacuate the stands at Chicago’s Soldier Field and delay the Bears game, AP reported.
Update 10:50 p.m.: Illinois officials said five people were killed and about 40 were injured as tornadoes tore through the state, while the city of Washington was hit extremely hard, several news outlets have reported.
Update 7 p.m.: At least four people have been killed during the intense thunderstorms and tornadoes that have swept across the Midwest on Sunday, Weather.com reports. Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, and Louisville, Ky., are among the large cities still at risk.
Update 3 p.m.: Several Illinois towns are reporting damage due to the severe storms. An AP report states rescue crews are working to resuce people who are trapped in several buildings. The Storm Prediction Center is reporting 31 tornadoes have touched down, 31 hail reports and 72 wind reports.
Midwesterners have shared their experiences on social media, providing photos of the damage and recording videos of tornadoes touching down.
— Jack Lance (@Jack_Lance18) November 17, 2013
Update 2:32 p.m.: The Bears vs. Ravens game has been delayed due to inclement weather. The weather delay has lasted over an hour and fans were evacuated from the stadium.
The Midwest is expected to get battered by bad weather, with storms and tornadoes predicted throughout the region.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has issued a tornado watch for northern lower Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The watch is in effect from Sunday afternoon until 8 p.m. EST. A tornado watch, in effect until 4 p.m. CST, was also issued for Illinois, eastern Iowa, northwest Indiana, northeast Missouri and southeast Wisconsin.
As reported by the Associated Press, a tornado touched down, around 11 a.m. local time, in East Peoria, Ill. No damage, injuries or casualties were reported. The news agency notes there is some concern for NFL fans attending the Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field. NFL games in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh may also be affected. Severe thunderstorms are also predicted for the Midwest. Laura Furgione, NOAA deputy director, said, "Get ready now," as the storm could be extremely destructive, reports AP.
Russell Schneider was quoted as saying the storm system would affect 53 million people in 10 states. The storm system is moving fast, at speeds of 60 miles per hour, requiring people to prepare ahead of time and not waiting until the bad weather hits. NOAA's Public Severe Weather Outlook "is forecasting an outbreak of severe thunderstorms, including strong tornadoes, widespread damaging winds, and large hail, over parts of the Ohio and middle Mississippi Valley region and southern Great Lakes region for the remainder of today into tonight."
The agency says severe storms may be possible for Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The storm system could reach the mid-Atlantic states and the northeast by the evening, notes AP. Experts and officials are stressing the importance of preparedness as there is the element of surprise when it comes to a late season storm.
Severe thunderstorms are uncommon this late in the year as there is usually not enough heat from the sun to sustain the storms but temperatures in the Midwest were unseasonably warm on Sunday.