Tornadoes, fires and fierce winds: wild weather grips the nation this week

by Nate Morris
Tornado damage in Mayfield, KY
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Wild weather ripped across much of the country Wednesday, bringing ferocious winds, raging fires and deadly tornadoes.  The record breaking storm system drew in warm, moist air from the gulf, launching temperatures across the midwest as high as 40 degrees above average. Winds whipped across the middle of the country, with at least five states reporting hurricane force winds.

For the first time in recorded history, a tornado touched down in Minnesota in December.  The tornado was just one of twenty to touch down by late evening. Residents from Nebraska to Wisconsin had to take cover throughout the day as warning sirens sounded.

Winds send debris and dust into the air in Kansas

Debris from nearby farm fields swirls around on Highway 400 between Mullinville, Kans., and Dodge City on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

Further west and south in Kansas and Oklahoma, fierce winds and dry conditions sent dust flying and fueled fires.

Rare dust storms darkened skies in several states across the plains, blocking out the sun and limiting visibility. One resident in Elkhart, KS called it “the darkest storm I’ve ever experienced.”

By late afternoon, some residents in the town of Guymon had to evacuate as a fire neared residential areas.

According to KRMG Radio, the Guymon fire has burned more than 400 acres of land. Local emergency officials issued a warning to residents, stating:

“Residents of Guymon West of Sunset Lane and County Road 30 are requested to evacuate to the north or south of Guymon to avoid the path of the fire.”

President Biden tours areas of Kentucky devastated by a tornado last week

All of this comes just days after one of the most destructive tornado outbreaks in history struck Kentucky and surrounding states. On Friday night, a powerful tornado tore across 230 miles, leveling entire towns in its path.

Biden speaks in Mayfield

President Joe Biden speaks after surveying storm damage from tornadoes and extreme weather in Dawson Springs, Ky., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Biden today visited the town of Mayfield, Kentucky. The record breaking tornado left the city of 10,000 completely devastated. The President toured what was left of the town, calling the devastation “beyond belief“.

The devastation over the weekend and the extreme weather Wednesday make clear the threat climate change poses.

Victor Gensini, a tornado expert, told CNN in an interview “when you start putting a lot of these events together… the statistics are pretty clear that not only has there sort of been a change — a shift, if you will — of where the greatest tornado frequency is happening.”

“These events are becoming perhaps stronger, more frequent and also more variable,” he added. Friday’s outbreak has left at least 88 dead, with many still missing.

In Kentucky, President Biden promised residents the US Government was there to help for the full recovery process.

“Keep the faith,” Biden told residents. “No one is walking away. We are in this for the long haul.”

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