A local bank is destroyed after a strong thunderstorm swept through the town on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Hartland, Minn. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)
UPDATED 2:34 PM PT – Thursday, December 16, 2021
High wind warnings have been issued from New Mexico to upper Michigan as a powerful storm system battered the Great Plains region and Midwest. Severe storms and at least 20 reported tornadoes recently wrecked havoc across the areas.
The storm system blew through several states on Wednesday, including Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. The National Weather Service reported hurricane-like wind gusts over 75 miles-per-hour, which is the highest recorded since 2009. The strong winds knocked over power lines and trees leaving hundreds of thousands without power across the region.
“We are readying equipment, we’re making sure all of our trucks are gassed up and ready to go, we’re going through maintenance checks and safety checks with our crews reminding them of the dangers of working in high winds and with potentially fallen power lines,” said Lillie Nielson, a resident of Hartland, Minnesota.
In Iowa, a semi-truck driver was killed after being blown off the highway in what meteorologists called harsh and unusual conditions. Residents said they’ve never seen anything like it before.
Highways were closed and schools were canceled across several states as people were ordered to stay home and off the roads. This comes just days after devastating tornadoes ripped through multiple states including Kentucky, Arkansas and Missouri, leaving at least 85 dead.
This current storm system is expected to shift north of the Great Lakes on Thursday and the National Weather Service has warned of high winds, snow and hazardous conditions in that region.