Deadly severe weather roars through several states, spawning potential tornadoes

A steel billboard and its support were blown over on Tuesday in Dunbar, W.Va. after severe storms blew through the area. (Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

Thousands of homes and businesses were without power Tuesday as severe weather roared through several states, causing at least one death and spawning possible tornadoes.

In West Virginia, about 140,000 customers were without electricity Tuesday afternoon, or about 14% of all customers tracked in the state by


Meanwhile, a spring snowstorm was expected to drop more than a foot of snow in Wisconsin.

Northeastern Oklahoma was hit with a strong weather system containing heavy rains that produced three suspected tornadoes. The storms were blamed for the death of a 46-year-old homeless woman in Tulsa who died inside a drainage pipe, police said.

Tulsa Fire Department spokesperson Andy Little said the woman’s boyfriend told authorities the two had gone to sleep at the entrance of the drainage pipe and were awakened by the floodwaters. Up to 1.5 inches (3.81 centimeters) of rain fell in Tulsa in about one hour, National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Darby said.

“It wasn’t a whole lot. But when it came down, it was pretty rapid,” Darby said.

In Ohio, firefighters rescued two people who were trapped under a bridge Tuesday when a river began rising. The two people were sleeping around 8:45 a.m. when the Scioto River started to rise, preventing them from returning to shore, the Columbus Fire Department reported. A fire department boat was sent to rescue them. No injuries were reported.

In southern Ohio, Mindy Broughton, 49, rushed into her mobile home Tuesday morning as hail began and winds picked up at the RV Park where she lives near Hanging Rock.

Broughton and her fiance hunkered down as the mobile home quickly began rocking. Broughton said her fiance used his body to shield her as the winds raged outside.

In a matter of seconds, the winds died down. When Broughton opened her mobile home door, she saw the RV Park littered with debris and overturned RVs. Luckily, Broughton said there was no one inside the overturned mobile homes that could be seen in her Facebook Live video.

Severe storms also swept through far southwestern Indiana on Tuesday morning, toppling trees and causing power outages, leading several local school districts to cancel the day’s classes. More than 18,000 homes and businesses were without power shortly before noon Tuesday, including in Vanderburgh County, home to Evansville, Indiana’s third-largest city.

Residents in Wisconsin were starting to see a spring snowstorm Tuesday afternoon that forecasters warned could dump more than a foot of snow in eastern parts of the state, including the Green Bay area. The state’s top election official, Meagan Wolfe, urged residents planning to vote in Tuesday’s presidential primaries to consider voting earlier in the day to avoid travel woes.

The National Weather Service said snowfall totals could range from 4 to 8 inches over central Wisconsin and 8 to 14 inches over eastern Wisconsin, while wind gusts of 30 mph to 50 mph will create very limited visibility and make travel difficult.

The storm will bring “a very heavy, wet snow,” meteorologist Scott Cultice with the weather service’s Green Bay office said.

“Just three weeks ago, we were in the 70s. So that kind of got people thinking spring is right around the corner — and here we’re in April and we’re getting a major snowstorm,” Cultice said. “As people say, `That’s springtime in Wisconsin.’ “

More than 37,000 homes and businesses in Wisconsin had lost power as of Tuesday evening, according to

In West Virginia, a storm blew off part of a vacant building’s roof in Charleston, littering the street with bricks and closing the roadway to traffic Tuesday afternoon. Trees were dislodged from the earth by the roots and lay in roads, lawns and in some cases, on top of cars.

Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for several counties because of the storms, which he said had also caused flooding and power outages. With storms continuing Tuesday evening, Justice urged people to “exercise extreme caution.”

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