Brookville, Ohio — Aso tightly packed that one may have crossed the path carved by another tore across both Ohio and Indiana overnight. The twisters smashed homes, blew out windows and ended the school year early for some students. One person was killed and about 90 were injured.
The storms were among 53 twisters that forecasters said may have touched down Monday across eight states stretching eastward from Idaho and Colorado. The past couple of weeks have seen unusually high tornado activity in the U.S., with no immediate end to the pattern in sight.
The winds peeled away roofs — leaving homes looking like giant doll houses — knocked houses off their foundations, toppled trees, brought down power lines and churned up so much debris that it could be seen on radar. Highway crews had to use snowplows to clear an Ohio interstate.
Some of the heaviest damage was reported just outside Dayton, Ohio. The storm damaged a popular sports center in the city. Action Sports Center is closed after the severe weather destroyed fields and an indoor venue, CBS affiliate WHIO-TV reported.
"It is complete devastation," said Kyle Coby, one of the owners of the complex.
In Celina, Ohio, 81-year-old Melvin Dale Hannah was killed when a parked car was blown into his house, Mayor Jeffrey Hazel said Tuesday. "There's areas that truly look like a war zone," he said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in three hard-hit counties, allowing the state to suspend normal purchasing procedures and quickly provide supplies like water and generators.
The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center said 14 suspected tornadoes touched down in Indiana, 11 in Colorado and nine in Ohio. Six were reported in Iowa, five in Nebraska, four in Illinois and three in Minnesota, with one in Idaho.
Monday marked the record-tying 11th straight day with at least eight tornadoes in the U.S., said Patrick Marsh, a Storm Prediction Center meteorologist. The last such stretch was in 1980. "We're getting big counts on a lot of these days, and that is certainly unusual," Marsh said.
A tornado with winds up to 140 mph struck near Trotwood, Ohio, a community of about 24,500 people eight miles outside Dayton. Several apartment buildings were damaged or destroyed, including one complex where the entire roof was torn away, and at least three dozen people were treated for cuts, bumps and bruises.
Just before midnight, about 40 minutes after that tornado cut through, the National Weather Service tweeted that another one was crossing its path, kicking up enough debris to be visible on radar. Only a few minor injuries were reported in Dayton. Fire Chief Jeffrey Payne called that "pretty miraculous," attributing it to people heeding early warnings. Sirens went off ahead of the storm.
A boil-water advisory was issued after the city's pumping stations lost power, and Dayton Power & Light said 64,000 customers were left without electricity.
A high school gym in Dayton was designated an emergency shelter until authorities realized it was unusable. Vandalia's school system tweeted that it is ending the year two days early because of building damage. In nearby Brookville, where the storm tore off the school's roof, classes were canceled.
In Indiana, a twister touched down Monday evening in Pendleton, about 35 miles from Indianapolis. At least 75 homes were damaged there and in nearby Huntsville, said Madison County Emergency Management spokesman Todd Harmeson. No serious injuries were reported.
Outbreaks of 50 or more tornadoes are not uncommon, having happened 63 times in U.S. history, with three instances of more than 100 twisters, Marsh said. But Monday's swarm was unusual because it happened over a particularly wide geographic area and came amid an especially active stretch, he said.
As for why it's happening, Marsh said high pressure over the Southeast and an unusually cold trough over the Rockies are forcing warm, moist air into the central U.S., triggering repeated severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. And neither system is showing signs of moving, he said.
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