Deadly Disasters

Severe weather in the South and Midwest causes a plethora of dangerous natural disasters

John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune

On January 11, a winter storm system swept from the Southern to the Midwestern United States. The system dropped temperatures and brought rain as well as high winds and tornadoes, according to The severe weather caused power outages, flight cancellations, flash floods and many deaths across the south and parts of the midwest.

The severe weather conditions caused 11 deaths in five different states. The icy roads in Texas caused a car to flip into a creek resulting in the death of the driver. Two first responders were killed while working on the scene of an accident in Texas, and one more was sent to the hospital in critical condition. In Louisiana, three people died due to strong winds. One man drowned in floodwaters in Oklahoma and another death was due to icy roads in Iowa that caused a semi-trailer to flip, according to

There were no reported deaths in the St. Louis area, but there were many flash flood warnings and winter weather advisories, according to aspiring meteorologist, Thomas Schwent. The sophomore has a Youtube channel called “MicroCasting St. Louis” in which he forecasts local weather in a video that is typically six minutes or less. Using computer models, trends in climate, and current observations, Schwent makes his forecasts with as much information as possible.

“[On January 10-11,] the big trigger was a cold front, with a large area ahead of the front rich with moisture and energy,” Schwent said. “We also saw a very large difference in the wind with height. This is favorable for tornadoes. The big missing factor was how unstable the energy was, or the ability to rise up into the upper levels of the atmosphere. That’s why this wasn’t a big tornado outbreak.”

There may not have been tornadoes here in Missouri, but there were eight tornadoes reported in other southern and midwestern states. Tornadoes were also reported in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. There were two reported tornadoes in Alabama that were embedded with intermittent storms that killed three people according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

“When it comes to storms themselves it is somewhat difficult to measure,” Schwent said. “Usually radar estimated wind and hail measurements are how we can tell. [On Friday and Saturday,] most storms were on the lowest end of the scale, 60 mph winds and one-inch hail, although a few had winds up to 80 mph.”

The severe weather also caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose power in the south and midwest. Due to the winter storms, ice, and flash flood warnings and watches in the midwest, Chicago canceled over 1200 flights between its two airports. The flash floods also caused parts of highways to be closed in Oklahoma. There were also flash flood warnings and watches in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee, according to

“A lot of people think tornadoes are the most deadly form of weather when it is actually flooding.” Schwent said, “So, I encourage people to take flood warnings just as seriously as a tornado warning, especially if in a flood-prone area.”