Tornadoes across Midwest: 10 people killed

Swarms of tornadoes killed at least 10 people across the Midwest and damaged so much of Illinois' capital on Monday that the mayor compared it to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The violent weather started during the weekend with a line of storms that spawned tornadoes and downpours from the southern Plains to the Ohio Valley.

Missouri was hardest hit by the weekend storms, with at least nine people killed and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed or damaged. Hail as big as large oranges pounded parts of Missouri and homes were destroyed along a path of more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of St. Louis, officials said. Missouri authorities reported four bodies found in the rubble of homes near the north-central town of Renick, two people killed when a tornado hurled their pickup truck beneath a propane tank about 80 miles (129 kilometers) south of St. Louis, the woman killed near Sedalia and another found dead in Henry County. In southwest Missouri, a 63-year-old man died early Monday from injuries suffered when a twist hit near Marionville.

Another storm victim was found in Indiana. On Monday, a second line of storms raked the region, with rain, hail and fierce wind tearing up trees and homes from Kansas through Indiana, and blizzards to the north cutting off power to thousands and shutting down schools in South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Illinois' capital was hit hard twice in 24 hours, first by a tornado and then strong wind early Monday that blew debris through the city. Power lines were down across Springfield, trees uprooted, windows blown out and at least 24 people were treated for minor injuries.

"It's just amazing how devastating it is," Mayor Tim Davlin said Monday after daylight let him see the extent of damage. "It looks like the pictures we saw a couple months ago after Katrina." Two hotels looked like they were still under construction, with missing roofs and blown-out windows. A nearby Wal-Mart store had also lost its roof.

The vast weather system arose as moist air from the Gulf of Mexico collided with cold Canadian air, said Philip Schumacher of the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The system dumped 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow in parts of western South Dakota and knocked out power and closed schools as it moved into Minnesota and Wisconsin. "It is a sign that spring is coming," said Schumacher. "You start getting stronger low-pressure systems, and they're able to bring in stronger south winds, which tend to bring up more moisture." Tornadoes also destroyed dozens of homes Sunday in Oklahoma and Arkansas, reports the AP.

N.U.