Fierce Storm Sweeps Through Midwest - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/17/06

Fierce Storm Sweeps Through Midwest

A fierce storm system swept across the Midwest and into the Northeast on Friday, ripping the roof off an Indiana church, pelting Arkansas with hail and cutting power to thousands in Michigan.

In western New York, winds gusting up to 60 mph led several schools to close from Buffalo to Rochester and south to the Finger Lakes region. A motorist near Rochester was killed by a falling tree.

Arkansas was bracing for a possible ice storm Friday after quarter-sized hail fell on the northwest part of the state, said Newton Skiles of the National Weather Service.

Stephanie Mayo, 33, stocked up on supplies at Harvest Foods in Little Rock, Arkansas.

"I'm buying a week's worth of food," she said.

In Indiana, an apparent tornado on Thursday blew the roof off a church in Terre Haute, and the roof on an Ivy Tech State College building partially collapsed. Another suspected tornado damaged nearly a dozen homes in Vincennes, about 100 miles southwest of Indianapolis, authorities said.

In Michigan, about 100,000 customers were still without power Friday after 60-mph winds blew through the Lower Peninsula. Some homes and businesses were expected to remain blacked out until Sunday.

The cold front came on the heels of much warmer weather.

Temperatures in Arkansas, where Fort Smith reached 79 degrees Thursday, were expected to be in the 20s and 30s Friday. Indianapolis residents woke up to 23 degrees weather.

In Rochester, New York, the temperature plunged from 60 degrees to the 30s in a few hours overnight. Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. officials said 1,000 customers were already without power by dawn.

Parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska had been hit by the strong winds and, in some cases, heavy snow, on Wednesday and Thursday.

As the cold front moved through Wisconsin on Thursday, the state got a mix of rain, sleet, snow, lightning, thunder and high winds gusting to 50 mph. Scores of motorists ended up in ditches, and Green Bay had over a foot of snow.

"It was a great system," said Steve Davis, of the National Weather Service in Sullivan. "For meteorologists, these are extremely interesting."

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