The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) says more hurricane force winds — 120 kilometers per hour or stronger — were reported Wednesday in the U.S. since at least 2004, thanks to unusual severe weather in the nations’ Midwest.
The NWS Storm Prediction Center says there were at least 59 reports Wednesday of winds gusting to that strength as a severe weather system moved from Kansas and Nebraska in the great plains to the northeast into the upper midwestern states of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The weather service also reported no other days recording a significant number of hurricane-force winds occurred outside of warmer North American summer months, let alone this late in the year.
The weather service said that along with 21 tornados recorded Wednesday, there were 502 severe wind reports and 19 severe hail reports, with hail stones of five centimeters or larger reported.
The unseasonably warm temperatures were reported throughout the region. In Wisconsin and Minnesota, where temperatures average around –2 C this time of year, nighttime temperatures near 12 C were recorded, with some areas reporting temperatures near 21.
The system came on the heels of devastating tornadoes last weekend that cut a path through states including Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky, killing more than 85 people.
Meteorologists report unusually warm water temperatures, and air out of the Gulf of Mexico may be fueling the unseasonable U.S. severe weather.