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Severe Storms Pounce on Midwest, Tennessee

October 26, 2001|Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — Snow-shrouded North Dakota highways were strewn with abandoned cars and trucks Thursday and tens of thousands of people across the Midwest were left without electricity after a blast of violent weather.

Wednesday's storms were blamed for at least six deaths, including four in separate road crashes in North Dakota. In Tennessee, a 4-year-old girl was killed and her mother was critically injured after a 60-foot tree toppled by 70-mph winds fell on their apartment. One person died in Indiana after being hurled several hundred yards by a tornado.

The surprisingly early blizzard began to move out after leaving nearly 10.8 inches of snow in Grand Forks and parts of Minnesota, and roads were covered with icy ruts.

"We are just trying to cut a path so people can get through," said Grand Forks city spokesman Kevin Dean.

In Grand Forks, the snowfall set a record, topping the earlier mark of 8.2 inches in 1926. Twenty-four school districts in the northern Red River Valley of North Dakota called off classes Thursday.

Heavy snow was forecast for Michigan's Upper Peninsula and parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota as the storm pushed eastward.

In Michigan, about 41,000 customers were still without electricity Thursday, a day after gusts of over 70 mph destroyed eight mobile homes south of Tekonsha. Seven people were treated for minor injuries.

Children and parents in Davisburg gathered to see how two walls of a fifth-grade classroom had been reduced to concrete blocks.

In Wisconsin, a hailstorm, rare for this time of year, battered Racine, denting car hoods, smashing skylights and leaving hills of ice in some yards.

At least 65,000 customers lost power in Ohio, Illinois and Tennessee during the storm.

In Monticello, Ill., a tornado tore the roof off a church, damaged businesses and apartments and uprooted 100-year-old trees.

In Tennessee, a radio tower fell across a highway in Sumner County, and a 20-foot steeple was blown off a church in Wilson County while services were being held. No one was injured in those incidents.

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