© Reuters. A grain bin litters a gravel road in central Nebraska after high winds swept the Great Plains of the United States and the upper Midwest, Litchfield, Nebraska, U.S., in this still image obtained from a video on social networks. KEVIN FULTON / via REUTERS
By Christopher Walljasper and PJ Huffstutter
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Strong winds ripped through the upper Midwest of the United States on Thursday night, sending walls of dust across cities and rural towns, causing widespread property damage and killing at least a few at least two people.
According to meteorologists and land experts, straight-line winds of up to 105 mph (169 km/h) from Kansas to Wisconsin, pushing waves of agricultural topsoil across the horizon and cast the community into the dark.
The wall of dust, farmers say, conjures up images of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, with winds knocking storage buildings onto tractors and overturning cars on highways.
One person was killed by a fallen tree in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to the National Weather Service. As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a second person was killed in Minnesota, when a box of cereal fell on the car.
“The damage was huge, but it could have been much worse,” said Todd Heitkamp, a meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He said the heaviest damage occurred in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.
As the wind eased, a thick layer of black soil covered the wind turbine blades and filled drainage ditches, the farmers said, as the top layer of soil, vital for growing crops, blew away some of the soil. field number.
According to Joanna Pope, Nebraska public affairs officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Natural Resources Conservation, dry conditions throughout the Great Plains and Midwest combine with traditional farming practices such as plowing the ground, creating a premise for a big dust storm.
“The best defense against this type of tool is to plant cover crops and practice soil-saving practices like no tilling,” she says.
“The exposed soil dries out very quickly, and the high winds just blow it away. It’s the people’s livelihood, the way it is. It’s terrible.”
The storm could spell trouble as farmers face delayed plantings, rising input costs and pressure to increase output amid record food prices and shortage fears.
In central Nebraska, high-wind irrigation systems have been used to offset recent crop drought. Farmer Kevin Fulton said it could take several weeks before costly systems are repaired.
Farmer Randy Loomis was planting corn near Ayrshire, Iowa, when a storm hit, knocking a neighbor’s grain box across his yard.
His wife and daughter, after having dinner, left the car and scurried to get some fresh air in a nearby ditch, he said.
Loomis, 62, said: ‘That big cloud of dust was the size of three football fields.