OMAHA — A hailstorm pelted Omaha on Monday, leaving ice chunks as big as golf balls piled knee-deep in some areas. The city deployed snow-removal equipment to clear the streets.
"It looks like we had a snowstorm," said service station attendant Tom Kirsch, who said the piles of hail left by city crews were still intact two hours after the storm had passed.
Hail reportedly as big as baseballs knocked down power lines near Falls City, about 100 miles to the south, police said.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, a Michigan couple and their three children were hospitalized in serious condition Monday after a natural gas explosion triggered by lightning destroyed their house. Thunderstorms swept across the state and caused power outages affecting about 13,000 residents.
In Omaha, where torrential rains turned the hail into slush, some motorists were stranded as huge puddles formed along curbs.
On Interstate 80, dozens of motorists pulled onto the breakdown lane when high winds and driving rain made it difficult to see. Side streets were awash throughout the city, and power was knocked out in several areas.
Meteorologist Bruce Burkman said the winds peaked at 60 m.p.h. as the afternoon storm passed.
Storms Cut Wide Path
The thunderstorms struck Monday from eastern Nebraska to western New York state, from the North Carolina coast to southern Florida, along the Texas Gulf Coast and across central Arizona and southeast Wyoming. Showers were scattered over eastern Arkansas, Mississippi, western Tennessee, southern Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota.
In southeast South Dakota, heavy rains caused rivers and creeks in the Big Sioux and Vermillion drainage areas to overflow their banks and flood cropland.
In Fond du Lac County, Wis., flood waters closed Wisconsin 41, and in Clark County, Wisconsin 10 was under three feet of water. Many secondary roads in the region were closed or washed out by the heavy rain. Power outages were reported in Wisconsin Rapids and Eau Claire, where more than three inches of rain fell overnight.