Environmental News from the US:
Hurricane-force winds tore across the U.S. upper Midwest Thursday evening, sending walls of dust across cities and rural towns, causing widespread property damage, and killing at least two people.
Straight-line winds up to 105 miles per hour (169 kph) reached from Kansas to Wisconsin, pushing waves of farmland topsoil across the horizon and plunging communities into darkness, according to meteorologists and soil experts.
The wall of dust evoked images of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, said farmers, with winds dropping storage buildings onto tractors and flipping cars on highways. One person was killed by a fallen tree in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to the National Weather Service. A second person was reportedly killed in Minnesota when a grain bin fell onto a car, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“The damage is extensive, but it could have been a lot worse,” said Todd Heitkamp, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The most severe damage hit parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota, he said. As winds subsided, a gritty layer of black dirt covered wind turbine blades and filled drainage ditches, farmers said, as rich topsoil, crucial for growing crops, blew off some fields.
Dry conditions across the Great Plains and Midwest, combined with traditional farm practices like soil tillage, set the stage for the massive dust storm, according to Joanna Pope, Nebraska state public affairs officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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