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Storm Howls Into Midwest; Death Toll at 15

December 15, 1987|Associated Press

A storm that socked Sun Belt cities with record snow howled over the Midwest today, snarling highway and air traffic after unleashing tornadoes across four Southern states. At least 15 deaths were blamed on the weather.

Worst hit was West Memphis, Ark., where a tornado late Monday killed at least five people and injured dozens as it cut a path of destruction 300 feet wide and a mile long. About 100 homes were destroyed or severely damaged and about 4,500 people were displaced.

Authorities today closed Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where eight inches of snow had fallen, and the high wind prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to briefly evacuate the airport's control tower.

"Visibility dropped to zero and we went into a virtual blizzard condition, with gusts up to (75 m.p.h.)," said Earl Hord, Chicago's commissioner of aviation. "We had to stop our entire snow removal program."

Officials closed schools today in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, where up to 10 inches fell.

In Wisconsin, all Milwaukee County government functions were closed except for emergency efforts. The city's Mitchell Airport, with 7.5 inches of snow by dawn, was closed indefinitely because plow drivers couldn't see.

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