TIME weather

At Least 19 Tornadoes Touch Down From Texas to Minnesota

Storms moved through rural Lyon County, Kan.
Matthew Fowler—AP Storms moved through rural Lyon County, Kan., on May 16, 2015.

A powerful storm system stretching from Texas to Minnesota brought flash flood warnings early Sunday after kicking up at least 19 damaging tornadoes overnight and pounding the region with baseball-sized hail.

Thousands of customers were without power but there were no immediate reports of any deaths or injuries.

Forecasters said the system was continuing its march eastward as radar showed storms across Iowa, Missouri and a large area of Texas.

Severe storms were likely Sunday for the Upper Midwest and mid-Mississippi Valley, including the possibility of isolated tornadoes. Flash flood warnings were also in effect in many areas, including north Texas, NBC DFW reported.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Science

One Astronaut’s Stunning Vine Shows a Huge Lightning Storm From Space

"A majestic performance that inspires awe and respect"

American astronaut Terry Virts posted a breathtaking Vine recently that showed a huge lightning storm as seen from the International Space Station. It’s the latest Vine that astronauts have been posting since they started using the app. “Massive lightning storm over India,” Virts wrote on Twitter. “A majestic performance that inspires awe and respect.”

Astronauts have recorded tons of fun footage during their time in space, including this fascinating video from Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who explained how exactly they use the bathroom in zero gravity.

Now that Virts, Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov will be in a space longer than anticipated, perhaps we’ll see more of these short clips soon.

TIME weather

Small Earthquake Shakes Michigan

Earthquakes are rare in the state

A small earthquake hit Michigan on Saturday.

The U.S. Geological Service reported the quake on its website at a magnitude of 4.2, centered in Galesburg in the southwestern part of the state.

“While on the low end of the scale, it is still quite rare for Michigan,” Rob Dale, from the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told the Detroit Free Press.

No injuries were immediately reported, but the effects of the small quake were felt miles away, including as far as Chicago.

TIME viral

Watch an Unbelievable Dust Storm Turn Belarus Into Tatooine

This is terrifying

An incredible video has surfaced of a bizarre weather phenomenon that, within a matter of minutes, transformed day into night in the Belarus city of Soligorsk on Monday.

Thankfully, while property damage was reported in the region, nobody was injured during the storm, says the Russian news outlet RT.

A cold front near the border with Ukraine created the epic dust storm called a “haboob,” which is rare in the region at this time of year. What’s more, the storm also included heavy rain.

It appears Mother Nature reminded us that science fiction may not be so outlandish after all.

Read next: How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME natural disaster

How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Dust Storm
Arthur Rothstein—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Father & sons walking towards shack, pace slowed by dust storm, in the Great Plains in the 1930s

April 14, 1935: The worst dust storm in history descends on the Great Plains—exactly four years before 'The Grapes of Wrath' is published

The dust fell so thickly on this day, April 14, 80 years ago, that even Okies and Texans inured to dust storms thought the end of the world was upon them. The fast-moving, low-hanging black cloud caught them unprepared, trapping motorists in their cars and forcing those who were caught out in the open to drop to their knees and crawl blindly toward shelter, according to an account by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. “Afternoon brightness [plunged] immediately into midnight darkness,” noted one National Weather Service observer.

It became known as the Black Sunday storm — the worst on record in the drought-stricken Great Plains. An Associated Press reporter and photographer who had tried to outrun the storm in a car were trapped for hours in the suffocating blackness. The next day, the reporter used the term “Dust Bowl” for the first time in print to describe the devastated region: “Three little words — achingly familiar on a western farmer’s tongue — rule life today in the dust bowl of the continent … ‘if it rains,’ ” he wrote.

Four years after Black Sunday, John Steinbeck marked the storm’s anniversary by publishing The Grapes of Wrath, the iconic tale of Oklahoma tenant farmers driven off their land and pushed into California in search of a new life. The fictional Joad family joined the real-life exodus of migrant farmers — roughly a quarter of a million of them, per TIME — who followed the same path out of desperation after the farms of the Great Plains were ruined by drought, overgrazing and unsustainable farming practices.

But in the promised land where Ma Joad dreamed of “a white house with oranges growin’ around,” they encountered hostility and living conditions not much better than in the dusty wasteland they’d left behind.

“Some of them camp in packing-box jungles and drink ditchwater; others are lucky enough to lodge in new government camps with modern plumbing and electric washing machines,” TIME observed in a 1940 article that compared the real-life migrant farmers to Steinbeck’s fictional ones. (Reviled as the penniless Okies were in California, TIME offered an ambivalent defense: “Strangely enough the incidence of venereal disease among the migrants is lower than among native Californians, and they have relatively little tuberculosis. Greatest plague: dietary diseases (scurvy and pellagra), resulting from lack of fresh meat and vegetables.”)

And while The Grapes of Wrath climbed to the top of the bestseller list, won the Pulitzer Prize, and became a “cornerstone of [Steinbeck’s] 1962 Nobel Prize,” according to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, TIME was similarly ambivalent about the merits of the book. In its review, TIME concludes:

The publishers believe it is “perhaps the greatest modern American novel, perhaps the greatest single creative work this country has ever produced.” It is not. But it is Steinbeck’s best novel… It is “great” in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was great — because it is inspired propaganda, half tract, half human-interest story, emotionalizing a great theme.

Read the full review of The Grapes of Wrath, here in the TIME archives: Oakies

TIME weather

Tornado Rips Through Illinois as Severe Weather Hits Midwest

Chicago was placed under a tornado watch for much of Thursday evening

A tornado damaged numerous homes Thursday night in northern Illinois, police told NBC News, as part of a storm system that was moving toward Chicago, which was under a tornado watch.

Police in Rochelle confirmed that the tornado left significant damage in Rochelle, Kings and Hillcrest. There was no immediate word on injuries.

The tornado crossed Interstate 39 several miles north of Rochelle, shortly after 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET), according to The Weather Channel, which aired the incident live. It also hit Fairdale and damaged an undetermined number of structures northwest of Ashton…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC news

TIME weather

‘Extremely Dangerous’ Tornado Hits Iowa as Severe Weather Moves Across Midwest

Chicago is under tornado watch for much of the night

A “large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched down in eastern Iowa on Thursday evening, the National Weather Service reports, calling for Midwest communities to take caution as severe weather moved across the region.

The agency said the tornado was seen near Camanche at 6:45 p.m. ET and moving northeast at 40 mph. CNN reports the twister is one part of a severe weather system that could effect up to 95 million people on Thursday, notably in cities like St. Louis and Chicago.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that Chicago and much of central and northeastern Illinois would be under a tornado watch until 11 p.m. CT (midnight ET). A tornado was spotted earlier in the day in Illinois, and tornado watches are in effect for parts of nine other states, Weather.com reports.

TIME weather

Supercell Storms Rip Through Midwest as They Head East

Severe storm shown on radar at 7:45pm moving into west central Oklahoma on April 8, 2015.
National Weather Service Severe storm shown on radar at 7:45pm moving into west central Oklahoma on April 8, 2015.

"There'll be a lot of supercells"

As many as 30 million people were in the path of the spring’s biggest storm yet — a monster stretching Wednesday from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and east to the Atlantic Ocean, which was already dropping giant hail on parts of the Midwest and threatened the greatest likelihood of tornadoes anywhere in the country.

Brief tornado warnings dotted Missouri and Indiana as the system began coalescing into what meteorologists call “supercells” — intense thunderstorms buoyed by cyclone-like rising winds. They’re the least common but most dangerous kind of thunderstorm, the National Weather Service said.

“There’ll be a lot of supercells,” said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Environment

Here’s Why Allergy Season Might Be Especially Unpleasant This Spring

Pollen levels are going to be intense this month, experts warn

There’s one more downside to winters that seems to drag on: allergy season is intensified.

Tree pollen levels may reach unusually high levels in the coming weeks because persistent colder temperatures delayed some trees from pollinating last month, according to allergy experts. Since not all trees pollinate at the same time — maple, cedar and elm trees, for example, pollinate early — the delays result in a large amount of trees pollinating at once.

“You may even see clouds of pollen being released over the next several weeks, where there will be almost a green mist,” Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., told CBS New York last week.

Experts say those living in the New England region — which saw its “last hurrah” winter storm in March — might want to pay particular attention to pollen levels, though any region that’s been slow to warm up this year may be affected.

“The general principle is the same: in the spring, wherever you are, whenever it becomes temperate, trees start to emit their pollen,” Dr. Rachel Miller, chief of pediatric allergy, immunology and rheumatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told TIME.

So what can you do to avoid the runny noses, itchy eyes and headaches? There are the classic over-the-counter allergy pills like Zyrtec and Claritin, but for those that suffer from more severe allergies, this spring might be the perfect time to finally get checked out.

“Certainly people can visit their allergists,” said Dr. Miller, “who can help make sure that they’re doing certain behaviors to try to minimize exposure when, say, they’re exercising or jogging in the park — as well as medical management, or possibly immunotherapy.”

 

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