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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — One person has died as a powerful storm system swept across the Great Plains and Midwest, authorities said, bringing hurricane-force wind gusts and spawning reported tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa.
The storm was shifting north of the Great Lakes into Canada on Thursday, with high winds, snow, and hazardous conditions continuing in the upper Great Lakes region, the National Weather Service said. More than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity Thursday morning in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports.
There were more than 20 tornado reports Wednesday in the Plains states, scattered through eastern Nebraska and Iowa, based on preliminary reports to the Storm Prediction Center.
The day also saw the most reports of hurricane-force wind gusts — 75 mph or higher — of any day since 2004, the Storm Prediction Center said.
“To have this number of damaging wind storms at one time would be unusual anytime of year,” said Brian Barjenbruch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley, Nebraska. “But to have this happen in December is really abnormal.”
The system came on the heels of devastating tornadoes last weekend that cut a path through states including Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky, killing more than 85 people.
The National Weather Service had issued a high wind warning for an area stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan, including Wisconsin and Illinois. Gusts topping 80 mph were recorded in the Texas Panhandle.