Winds Whip Tornadoes and Storms Across the Midwest and High Plains

Market to Market | Clip
Dec 17, 2021 | 4 min

The National Weather Service sent out warnings about pending severe weather and then advisories to those after the smoke they smelled in the air was likely from several states away. The assessment portion of the severity of the storm is still in progress as the number of tornadoes reported is already over 100.


Heavy winds brought destructive weather to numerous states over the past week.

Much of the Mid-South is still digging out from last week’s multiple tornadoes. The National Weather Service labelled one storm an EF4 twister, which spent roughly four hours on the ground as it moved across in western Kentucky. 

Megan Schargorodski, State Climatologist of Kentucky: “Generally with a tornado or a severe storm of that nature, they run out of energy with, within, you know, 30 minutes, max, it's usually not on the ground for a very long, but as you could see that it was on the ground, just eating up the fuel that it was, um, running into in the atmosphere and it just kept going. And uh, it's, it's incredible.” 

This storm cut a more than 200-mile swath across the Bluegrass state, devastating numerous farmsteads. In one of the worst hit farming communities, the future of the area’s 2021 harvest is in jeopardy.   

Commissioner Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Department of Agriculture: “There's one grain facility in Mayfield that has over 5.5 million bushels of grain stored in one center. I surveyed the damage myself. We're not sure how, or if we're gonna be able to market that grain, even as, uh, damaged, uh, by the storm because it's exposed to the elements and the unloading equipment, um, is simply not attached to the silos anymore. And we're afraid it could collapse.”

Commissioner Quarles added it could be a long time before officials have a true understanding of the damage.

Commissioner Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Department of Agriculture: “The Kentucky farmers are resilient people. Uh, they put community first. And I think that we're gonna see a recovery effort that is unprecedented because we have no choice that farmers are resilient people, and that we're going to come back stronger than ever before.” 

Late this week, the High Plains and the Midwest endured their own set of storms. Hurricane force winds pushed more than 20 reported tornadoes through eastern Nebraska and Iowa. With little more than barbed wire fencing to slow the 100-plus mile per hour winds, farmers and ranchers watched helplessly as the storms toppled farm buildings and destroyed equipment. The Governor of Iowa signed a disaster declaration for 49 counties affected by the storms.

Eighty mile per hour winds helped create Dust Bowl like conditions in Kansas . Portions of I-70 along with several state highways were closed in the Wheat State due to the dust storms. The wide reaching storms were responsible for leaving over 400,000 homes and businesses without power across Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Inclement weather also struck the West. Southern California endured drenching rains on already drought stricken ground, creating mudslides and flooding in some areas. 

In northern California, heavy snowfall blanketed the town of Redding and closed Interstate 5, a major artery linking California to Oregon. While the ample snowfall created headaches for travellers, it is a welcome site in the high Sierra mountains where snowpack is lacking.

For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy.  @TVTorpy