Severe Weather Spawns Violent Midwest Tornadoes

Buildings destroyed and cars flipped throughout Midwest, but no fatalities.

ByLee Ferran via via logo
June 18, 2009, 8:09 AM

June 18, 2009 — -- Tornadoes, heavy rains and floods are hammering the heartland.

In Austin, Minn., on Wednesday night, flying debris injured six of the Morem family's horses and sent people running for cover.

"I realized we really were having a tornado, and I ran into the house," said Mel Morem.

Her son, Mitch Morem, was trapped under debris.

"I started pulling the hay over the top of me," he said. "I actually barricaded myself over my head and everything."

There were 23 tornadoes reported throughout the Midwest on Wednesday alone, and more than 100 have been reported in the past week. Meteorologists say this might just be the start.

"We haven't had those real clashes of hot and cold so often this season," said Tracy Butler, a meteorologist for WLS-TV in Chicago. "We're really getting a late start for the severe weather season here in the Midwest."

Aside from the tornadoes, hail pelted parts of Colorado and North Carolina. Thunderstorms and high wind knocked out power in the South. And torrential downpours swamped the streets of Pittsburgh, turning storm drains into geysers.

Tim Sherno, from ABC News' Minneapolis affiliate KSTP, visited Austin, Minn., to survey the damage.

"We've seen a lot, and this is a good example," Sherno said as he stood in the midst of steel-strewn rubble. "This used to be a storage building. It was basically squashed by a tornado last night. We have seen pieces of metal crumpled up like paper balls, scattered across the landscape."

Nearby, Sherno said the possible tornado wrapped a piece of metal around a tree "draped like a necktie."

One man was reportedly inside a shed when it flipped over twice, but other than a few scrapes and bruises, he walked away unscathed.

"Tornadoes are strange animals. They do bizarre things," Sherno said.

While there was only one serious injury reported, Sherno said paramedics reported treating multiple minor injuries.

The severe weather also knocked out power for most residents in Austin, Sherno said.

"There is no electricity anywhere in town," Capt. Jim Brickson, commander on-site, told KSTP. "We have a generator available to provide lights in our Austin service center and are waiting direction from city officials."

Flooding was the primary problem in Abercrombie, N.D., a small town south of Fargo, where clouds rained down eight inches of rain in 24 hours, The Associated Press reported.

Storm drains were overwhelmed by flash floods in Pittsburgh as a rainfall record was broken, ABC News' Pittsburgh affiliate WTAE reported.

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