HARRISBURG, ILL. — Crews cleared splintered plywood and smashed appliances from small-town neighborhoods Thursday, a day after tornadoes killed 13 people in the Midwest and South. But the forecast held a menacing possibility: More twisters may be coming, and they could be even stronger.
Damaged communities tried to take advantage of the brief break in the weather, mindful of one meteorologist’s warning that by today, both regions would again be “right in the bull’s eye.”
Skies were sunny in the southern Illinois community of Harrisburg, where Darrell Osman was back in the rubble of his dead mother’s home, trying to salvage whatever he could. When he arrived, a neighbor handed him his mother’s wallet, which the twister had dropped in a truck near her home.
He couldn’t help but think of the pain that would be inflicted if another twister hit Harrisburg, a town of 9,000 where six people died.
“On a personal level, I think I’ve been hit as hard as I can be hit, but it would be disheartening for this community,” Osman said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Beverly Poole said severe storms are expected to roll through the region again after midnight Thursday and linger into early today, possibly bringing hail and rain.
Then yet another system is expected to arrive this afternoon.
Both rounds of violent weather carry the potential of more tornadoes, Poole said.
The weather service planned to bring a severe-weather specialist to the region’s command center to provide up-to-the-minute information before and during the storms.
Authorities warned that the next line of storms was forecast to take a similar path and potentially grow stronger than Wednesday’s system.
Ryan Jewell, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center, said the Midwest and South will be squarely in the center of the danger zone.