2 confirmed dead as tornadoes sweep across Midwest (map, video)

72240 full

 Tornado map

A line of storms moving through the country's midsection has already produced a few damaging tornadoes and the National Weather Service predicts that major severe weather could break out as the system moves east.

In Illinois, a series of tornadoes raked the outskirts of Peoria. Washington, Ill. has so far been the hardest hit with reports of entire blocks of homes leveled. — Eyder Peralta, NPR

RELATED: How to help victims of the Midwest tornadoes

We'll update this post through the afternoon, so hit refresh to see the latest.

Update 3:04: 2 confirmed dead; officials assessing damage
At least two people have been confirmed dead in a tornado that tore through southern Illinois. The Associated Press reports

Mark Styninger, the coroner of Washington County in southern Illinois, said an elderly man and his sister were killed around noon when a tornado hit their home in the rural community of New Minden.

Officials are still trying to assess the damage to communities in Illinois, Indiana Missouri and elsewhere, the AP reported, and to organize shelters and medical aid as evening fell.
The National Weather Service was also trying to determine how many tornadoes had struck the area. Fifty-nine had been reported on the agency's website. But that number is expected to come down as the NWS gets a clearer understanding of the reports.
 The Peoria Star Journal reports dozens are injured and the national guard and rescue teams are on the scene. 

Update at 1:02 p.m.: Entire blocks destroyed

Alex Rusciano, of NPR member station WCBU, tells our Newscast unit that the tornado that tore through Washington, Ill., destroyed entire blocks of homes.

Rusciano spoke to Susan Newton, who lives in one of the hard-hit neighborhoods.

"We have neighbors that have lost their entire home, and last night we were at a dinner party at friends of ours, and their home is gone," Newton told him. "Gone. There's nothing left."

Videos have started appearing on YouTube: 

Tornado tearing through Minooka in Illinois

Tornado chasers in Lebanon IN

Update at 12:31 p.m. Game will resume

The game at Soldier Field will resume in a few minutes. The National Weather Service Chicago says that there are no tornado or severe weather warnings in effect, but the potential for hazardous weather still exists.

Update 11:52 a.m.: Game at Soldier Field suspended

With the line of severe weather about to move through Chicago, the game at Soldier Field between the Bears and the Ravens, has been suspended. The fans at the stadium were told to leave the seating area and move to a covered concourse.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

"The National Weather Service reports that a confirmed tornado was on the ground near Coal City on the Grundy County-Will County line. It was moving northeast at 55 m.p.h. That tornado, described as 'large and extremely dangerous,' was also seen near Wilmington.

"The agency described the situation as 'particularly dangerous' and 'life threatening' while asking people to 'take cover now.'

"'We're very concerned,' weather service meteorologist Gino Izzi said earlier. 'We're definitely stressing that this is not your run-of-the-mill tornado watch.'"

Update 11:48 a.m.: The damage near Peoria

Marcus Bailey, the chief meteorologist for WMBD-TV in central Illinois, has been tweeting about the situation around Peoria.

He tweeted this photograph of Washington, Ill., just across the lake from Peoria:

"There are no words"

And another from Maria Chandler from Fox 4: 

Storm destruction in East Peoria

The Peoria Journal Star reports that a couple of tornadoes have touched down. One in Washington, the other in Pekin. It's unclear what the extend of the damage is, but the paper reports:

"Authorities erected a shelter at Cherry Tree Shopping Center, and those injured were being taken to the Washington Fire Department.


"Georgetown Commons apartment complex was severely damaged and other areas were hit hard. Authorities were doing a house-to-house search.


"U.S. Route 24 at Cummings Lane was being shut down. And other parts of the city were being evacuated."



Live map of tornado activity, social media response


ESRI has put together a live map of tornado reports from the National Weather Service, along with geolocated social media responses from the area. Have a look below. You can toggle the layers below to include more or less information: 

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


With contributions from Eyder Peralta and Eric Zassenhaus

blog comments powered by Disqus