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From Ohio to Idaho, and Minnesota to Louisiana, extreme weather has hammered America's heartland for weeks. With swollen rivers threatening to spill over levees and dams, and damaging tornadoes ripping through homes, the storms have endangered millions of Americans. Here's a look at what plagues the region.
When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned in March of major flooding in the Midwest, it noted that major rains could combine with heavy snow melts to put more than 200 million people at risk.
That’s exactly what has happened.
Heavy rainstorms have stalled over the region for more than a month, filling the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas rivers to near-historic proportions. In St. Louis, waters reached 42 feet as of Tuesday, and the waters rose to 31 feet in Jefferson City, Missouri, the state capital, which was also hit recently by a tornado. Flood watches are in effect along virtually the entire lengths of the rivers.
The rains intensified over the holiday weekend, as severe thunderstorms triggered flash flood warnings in five states.
Late spring is peak tornado season, and the country has been battered. Tornadoes hit Kansas and touched down in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and that evening, New Jersey and New York City residents were alerted to a rare tornado warning. Tuesday was the 13th straight day with at least one tornado, and the ninth day in a row of tornado outbreaks. More than a dozen tornadoes landed on Memorial Day, killing an 81-year-old man in Dayton, Ohio, and knocking out power to more than 60,000 homes.