A Fierce Storm Slams the U.S.

High winds, raging rains and destructive tornadoes rip across the country

Oct 27, 2010 | By Andrea Delbanco

Wind gusted to 80 miles an hour. Eight inches of snow blanketed parts of North Dakota. Eight tornadoes touched down in Indiana, and three twisters tore through Ohio. Trees snapped, power lines fell and flights were delayed throughout the Midwest and South.

Officials are calling the storm system that tore through the country early this week unusual because of its size and pressure. It was similar to a Category 3 hurricane, but with less damaging power. If the storm system had been over water instead of land, it would have created a major hurricane.

Safe, Surprisingly

Officials closed the observation deck of Chicago's Willis Tower, the nation's tallest building. Emergency escorts led trucks and school buses safely across the wind-whipped Mackinac Bridge, which stretches for five miles to link Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas.

North Carolina saw some of the worst destruction. Three homes were leveled and 11 people were hurt in the storm. "We were just so scared," said 18-year-old Jessica Vargas, who rode out the storm in Vale, North Carolina. The storm blew out her living room windows, knocked down the chimney and sent a tree crashing through the roof. "We didn't have time to do anything," said Jessica, who was not injured.

Helen Miller, 41, was hurt when a tree branch crashed into her car near Chicago, Illinois. She is recovering in the hospital, but asked her husband, Todd Miller, to hang on to the branch. "She wants to save it for an art project or something," he said.