The Midwest is experiencing a slew of alarming weather events, that have downed trees, caused road closures, destroyed buildings, and left more than a 100,000 residents without power.
Life-threatening weather conditions, including extreme winds with a high threat of tornadoes and record-breaking temperatures swept across the entire region – from the Mexico to Canada borders. And powerful wind and dust storms were reported in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, according to the National Weather Service.
NWS warned of swath of more than 60 mph winds, with embedded gusts of more than 80 mph from New Mexico to Michigan.
In Kansas City, Mo., staff at the Kansas City International Airport air traffic control center staff has been evacuated as high winds with gusts up to 70 mph continue to batter the area.
“For their safety FAA staff in the tower cab evacuated,” airport officials succinctly stated on Twitter at 5:50 p.m. CST. “This means there is no Air Traffic Control for flights at the airport. There will likely be diversions and delays.”
Anyone expecting to fly should anticipate an hour-long delay, they said.
The NWS Kansas City is urging everyone who is outside to immediately seek shelter.
The dangerously high winds in Nebraska have produced winds surpassing 90 mph.
In Lincoln, Neb., one reporter from the local ABC News affiliate captured footage of 93 mph winds pummeling the parking lot of the news station.
Earlier in the day, warnings of winds up to 70 mph, prompted many k-12 school officials to cancel classes or move to online learning for the day. Businesses also adjusted hours or closed while waiting out the storm.
“Having windy days is not atypical this time of year late fall into early winter,” Shawn Rossi, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Hastings, told Nebraska Public Media. “This is just a very potent system that’s going to be intensifying that is going to really impact our area.”
Over it all is forecast to be an extreme wind event stretching across the entire central U.S. from the Mexico to Canada borders. A swath of 60+mph wind gusts, with embedded gusts to 80+ mph, will move from NM to MI through tonight.
National Weather Service pic.twitter.com/KYgLwoDBUE
— National Weather Service (@NWS) December 15, 2021
As of 8:55 a.m., Omaha had tied its record high temperature for the day at 61°, the NWS reported, adding, “This record will be smashed today by about 10°.”
The warmest temperature ever recorded in the city was in 1939 when it reached 72° in the month of December.
The NWS urged residents to avoid travel as blowing dust reduced visibility to near zero.
Satellite imagery shows blowing dust(pink colors) over western Kansas spreading eastward. Damaging wind gusts will affect all of Western Kansas into Central and South Central Kansas this afternoon. #kswx pic.twitter.com/yLOd7VZoAH
— NWS Wichita (@NWSWichita) December 15, 2021
NWS officials in Kansas Wichita issued a similar warning. Wind gusts of 60 to 85 mph spreading from west to east. “Blowing dust could reduce visibility to less than half a mile at times,” the NWS warned.
In Colorado, wind gusts reached 95 mph in the areas near the foothills, and officials there also cautioned drivers to stay off the road.