Widespread severe storms leave 1 dead

A tree covers a road after severe storms hit Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Cross Lanes, W.Va. (AP Photo/John Raby)
A tree covers a road after severe storms hit Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Cross Lanes, W.Va. (AP Photo/John Raby)

Thousands of homes and businesses were without power Tuesday as severe weather roared through several states, causing at least one death and spawning possible tornadoes.

In West Virginia, about 140,000 customers were without electricity Tuesday afternoon, or about 14% of all customers tracked in the state by poweroutage.us. Meanwhile, a spring snowstorm was expected to drop more than a foot of snow in Wisconsin.

One of the hardest-hit areas was northeastern Oklahoma, where a strong weather system containing heavy rains produced three suspected tornadoes. The storms were also blamed for the death of a 46-year-old homeless woman in Tulsa who died inside a drainage pipe, police said.

Tulsa Fire Department spokesperson Andy Little said the woman's boyfriend told authorities the two had gone to sleep at the entrance of the drainage pipe and were awakened by the flood waters. National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Darby said up to 1.5 inches of rain fell in Tulsa in about one hour before moving northeastward out of the state.

"It wasn't a whole lot. But when it came down it was pretty rapid," Darby said.

In Ohio, firefighters came to the rescue of two people who were trapped under a bridge early Tuesday when the waters of an Ohio river began rising, and forecasters warned more severe weather was headed to the area.

The two people were sleeping under the bridge around 8:45 a.m. when the Scioto River started to rise, the Columbus Fire Department reported. While the pair were never directly in the water, the flooding prevented them from returning to the shore, so a fire department boat was sent to rescue them.

No injuries were reported.

In southern Ohio, Mindy Broughton, 49, rushed into her mobile home Tuesday morning as the hail began pouring down and the winds picked up at the RV Park where she has lived near Hanging Rock for two years.

Broughton and her fiance hunkered down as the mobile home quickly began rocking. Broughton said her fiance used his body to shield her as the winds raged outside.

"I said I think we may die today," she said.

In a matter of seconds, the winds died down. When Broughton opened her mobile home door, she saw the devastation left behind. The RV Park was littered with debris and overturned RVs. Luckily, Broughton said there was no one inside the overturned mobile homes that could be seen in her Facebook Live video.

One neighbor told Broughton that he had seen a funnel cloud. The National Weather Service of Charleston, West Virginia, had issued a tornado warning for the Mid-Ohio valley Tuesday morning.

Severe storms also swept through far southwestern Indiana on Tuesday morning, toppling trees and causing power outages, leading several local school districts to cancel the day's classes. More than 18,000 homes and businesses were without power shortly before noon Tuesday, including in Vanderburgh County, home to Evansville, Indiana's third-largest city.

Residents in Wisconsin were bracing for a spring snowstorm that forecasters warned could dump more than a foot of snow in eastern parts of the state, including the Green Bay area. The state's top election official, Meagan Wolfe, urged residents planning to vote in Tuesday's presidential primaries to consider voting earlier in the day, depending on their local forecast, to avoid travel woes.

The National Weather Service said snowfall totals could range from 4 to 8 inches over central Wisconsin and 8 to 14 inches over eastern Wisconsin, while wind gusts of 30 mph to 50 mph would create very limited visibility and make travel difficult at best.

Information for this article was contributed by Ken Miller, Rick Callahan, Leah Willingham, John Raby, Adrian Sainz and Beatrice Dupuy of The Associated Press.

  photo  Raindrops fall on a window pane as a pedestrian walks by on Tuesday, Apr 4, 2024, during a heavy rainfall in Philadelphia. (Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

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