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TORNADOES HIT SIX STATES, SEVERE WEATHER CONTINUES

NOAA image of experimental enhanced resolution thunderstorm outlook for March 29, 2007.March 29, 2007 A strong storm system caused tornadoes in six central plains states Wednesday, and NOAA weather forecasts called for the possibility of severe weather to shift only slightly to the east on Thursday. On Wednesday, there was heavy snow in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming, numerous tornadoes from the eastern Nebraska Panhandle, along the Colorado-Kansas state line and into the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles. (Click NOAA image for larger view of experimental enhanced resolution thunderstorm outlook for March 29, 2007. Click here for latest outlook. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., received a total of 65 tornado reports Wednesday from Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Illinois. There also were 14 reports of high winds and 162 reports of large hail. The NOAA Storm Prediction Center reported two tornadoes in Illinois, two in Oklahoma, four in Colorado, 12 in Nebraska, 17 in Texas and 28 in Kansas.

NOAA image of NOAA Storm Prediction Center storm reports for March 28, 2007.A tornado hit Holly, Colo., in Prowers County Wednesday evening, according to reports from the Pueblo forecast office, causing one fatality and at least 11 injuries. The tornado destroyed five homes and damaged 60 in the town of 1,048 residents. (Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA Storm Prediction Center storm reports for March 28, 2007. Click here for latest reports. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Other tornado damage reports were received from Bird City, Kan.; Benkelman, Grant and Ogallala, Neb., in addition to rural west-central and southwest Kansas. The NOAA National Weather Service damage survey teams from forecast offices in Goodland and Dodge City, Kan., and North Platte, Neb., were scheduled to assess impacts on Thursday.

A tornado near Elmwood, Okla., resulted in two fatalities, the first tornado-related fatalities in Oklahoma in almost six years. Other damage and injury reports were still being compiled by local officials.

The storm left snow in mountainous areas of Colorado and Wyoming. NOAA's Cheyenne, Wyo., forecast office reported 18 inches of snow 20 miles southeast of Saratoga in Carbon County. Rawlins reported 8 inches of snow and Battle Mountain reported 9 inches. The office also received a report of 1.75-inch diameter hail from a weather observer 18 miles west of Hemingford in Box Butte County. Grand Junction, Colo., forecasters called for 12 inches and more of new snow for mountains above 9,000 feet. Blowing snow will make for hazardous driving conditions, such as Lake County in the central part of the state, where 4 inches to 8 inches of snow will be accompanied by 20 mph to 30 mph winds with gusts to 45 mph. Frequent white-out conditions are expected.

"This is a very strong and potentially dangerous storm. Although we expect the threat of severe weather to diminish somewhat today, conditions may well worsen again late this afternoon." NOAA Weather Service Central Region Director Lynn Maximuk said. "The area where severe weather is possible shifts to the east today to cover more populated areas of the Central Plains, so we again encourage residents and travelers to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and keep up on current weather conditions."

Thursday’s severe weather threats include heavy snow in parts of Wyoming, Colorado and North Dakota; floods and flash floods through the Central Plains and Midwest; severe thunderstorms in portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri. There is a threat of freezing rain in southern North Dakota and Minnesota. Flood watches are in effect for the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota, the Mississippi River through large portions of western Illinois and northeast Missouri, as well as along the Illinois-Indiana state line.

The severe weather forecast map for Thursday from the NOAA Hydrometeorological Prediction Center emphasizes the possibility of severe thunderstorms in an area including southeast South Dakota, extreme southwest Minnesota, the eastern halves of Nebraska and Kansas, the western third of Iowa, the northwest half of Missouri, all of Oklahoma but the Panhandle and a large swath of central Texas.

Local forecasts, existing conditions and storm reports are available on online by selecting the desired location on the national weather forecast map. Select the desired location for current conditions and forecasts.

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Relevant Web Sites
NOAA National Weather Service Central Region

NOAA Storm Prediction Center

NOAA Hydrometeorological Prediction Center

NOAA Weather Portal

Media Contact:
Patrick Slattery, NOAA National Weather Service Central Region, (816) 268-3135