Iowa Public Television


Wicked weather blasts eight states

posted on April 21, 2011

Farmers in the "Corn Belt" anxiously await a break in the weather that will allow them plant this year's crops.

In Iowa -- the nation's top corn producing state -- just 2 percent of the crop has been sown. A year ago at this time 16 percent of the corn was in the ground.

Further south in Texas, growers are coping with the opposite weather conundrum. Nearly 70 percent of the Lone Star State remains in extreme drought. And wildfires, including several still burning, have blackened more than 1.4 million acres, or 2,100 square miles.

But that's not to say there hasn't been any rain lately in the south. And nothing in recent memory compares to Mother Nature's onslaught last Saturday.

Wicked weather blasts eight states

A series of violent storms broke out last weekend in Oklahoma and headed east. Gaining strength as they crossed eight states, the storms spawned more than 240 tornadoes, and killed at least 45 people.

62 of the twisters were in North Carolina alone. The state's governor toured the wide-spread destruction this week, calling for, and receiving, a federal disaster declaration in 18 counties. The state's vital infrastructure is still being repaired, days after the storm.

Gov. Beverly Perdue, D-North Carolina: "Every community is open, trying to get back to work and to clean up and to move on for the future. I mean, it's -- it's just a lot of faith, a lot of community, a lot of friends, but it's just the spirit of North Carolina."

The final eight days of the semester were cancelled at Shaw University in Raleigh. Dorm windows were broken and other campus buildings damaged.

In Sanford, North Carolina the roof was torn off this Lowe's Home Improvement store in Sanford, North Carolina. 100 people were inside the store when the storm struck.

Kim Thomas, Lowe's Home Improvement: "And I looked immediately as I was pivoting to run away, and I just saw a big giant gray cloud funneling."

The series of storms was one of the worst in decades involving tornadoes in North Carolina, where more than 6,000 homes were damaged and 440 were destroyed. The National Weather Service surveyed the area, and blamed several factors for the storms' fury.

Jeffrey Orrock, National Weather Service: "The weather conditions that are necessary to produce storms of this magnitude, these monsters, these supercells. It's like making a cake. And you have got to have all the right ingredients. And all the right ingredients came into play."

Tags: agriculture corn crops news North Carolina Oklahoma storms tornadoes weather