NATIONAL NEWS

Tornadoes in Virginia and Florida, flooding in other states

May 1, 2023, 1:33 AM | Updated: 4:24 pm

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (AP) — A rare and powerful tornado sent residents of a coastal city in Virginia fleeing for cover over the weekend as it peeled roofs from buildings and pushed homes from their foundations.

It was the most powerful tornado ever to hit Virginia Beach, Virginia, officials confirmed Monday. No one was reported injured, despite few residents being prepared for tornadoes. Several people described taking cover under stairwells; most lack basements because the water table is so high.

Wreckage from destructive weather dotted the U.S. Monday as officials took stock of unrelated tornadoes and Maine.

In Virginia Beach, residents credited a cellphone warning system for helping them take shelter in time. One family escaped injuries by reacting to a weather alert that came less than a minute before the tornado hit.

“It just happened suddenly,” Lori Camper said. “The whole thing lasted 10 seconds.”

She and her visiting daughter looked out the window and saw the trees bending in the wind and ran. The family, including Camper’s grandchildren, aged 2 years and 5 weeks, as well as two dogs, ran into a stairwell — the only place without windows.

“Then all the windows blew out in the kitchen and sucked everything out of the kitchen and a tree fell through the roof,” Camper said. “And now one side of the house is leaning.”

She hadn’t experienced a tornado that strong in the 19 years she had lived there.

“I’m grateful,” she said. “God took care of us.”

No injuries were reported.

Elsewhere, officials were assessing damage Monday in West Virginia, Maine, Florida and California. The National Weather Service confirmed Mississippi River is testing flood defenses in Iowa and Illinois as the river crests in the area Monday.

West Virginia’s eastern mountains could see up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow Tuesday morning as a rare May winter storm moves through, forecasters said. The snow won’t help the area’s ski resorts, which had already closed for the season.

In California, a late-season weather system brought showers and the possibility of high-elevation snow in the Sierra Nevada through the week. Fears of flooding shut down of parts of Yosemite Valley over the weekend. But the National Park Service said the Merced River did not rise as much as expected and the valley reopened on Monday.

In Maine, heavy rain and powerful wind gusts knocked out power for more than 50,000 homes and businesses on Monday morning. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph (115 kph) were reported Sunday near Matinicus Island, about 20 miles offshore, and up to 65 mph (100 kph) onshore in Bath, where Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works has numerous cranes. Rainfall approaching 5 inches (13 centimeters) also led to flood warnings on several rivers in parts of southern Maine.

The Virginia Beach tornado damaged at least 100 buildings, tearing through them with wind speeds as high as 150 mph (240 kph), officials assessing the wreckage and weather data said Monday. The National Weather Service’s Wakefield, Virginia, office confirmed Monday morning that the tornado was rated at EF-3, with wind estimates of 140 mph (225 kph) to 150 mph (240 kph). It’s the first tornado to be rated that high, according to NOAA records, with wind gusts exceeding those of the largest hurricanes recorded around the city.

A.T. Price, 73, was at his stove making tacos Sunday when his phone started to buzz with severe weather alerts. At first, he pooh-poohed it.

“But it kept buzzing and buzzing. I checked it again and it says, ’Immediate danger. Tornado down,’” Price said. He dove into the closet below his first-floor stairwell, crouching into a fetal position under his winter coats.

“I heard the freight-train sound, and it sounded like it was going right over the house,” Price said. “I would tell people to heed those alerts.”

Virginia Beach Director of Emergency Management David Topczynski said Monday that the city got lucky because the storm blew in Sunday during a music festival, where an emergency operation center was already set up, allowing for a swift response.

The tornado caused an estimated $15 million in residential damage, with nine homes destroyed, the city said in a Monday afternoon news release. Another 36 homes sustained major damage that made them unlivable, while “many more” had significant damage, the city said.

___

This story has been corrected to show that at least 100 buildings in Virginia Beach were reported to be damaged, not destroyed.

National News

Associated Press

Pursuit of Milwaukee carjacking suspects ends with police shooting 2 teens in stolen vehicle

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A police pursuit of carjacking suspects in Milwaukee ended Thursday with police firing into the vehicle and injuring two teens, one of whom was pregnant and lost her baby, Milwaukee police said. Officers tried to stop the stolen vehicle just before 2:30 p.m. on Interstate 43 north of Milwaukee. The pursuit ended […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

2 crop dusting airplanes collided in southern Idaho, killing 1 pilot and severely injuring the other

ARCO, Idaho (AP) — Two crop dusting airplanes collided near an airport in southern Idaho on Thursday and crashed to the ground, killing one of the pilots and leaving the other with life-threatening injuries, officials said. The crash was reported at about 12:30 p.m. in an area covered by sage and grass near the airport […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Appeals court panel refuses to delay Trump ally Steve Bannon’s 4-month contempt prison sentence

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court panel on Thursday rejected longtime Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon’s bid to stay out of prison while he fights his conviction for defying a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the U.S. Capitol attack. Bannon is supposed to report to prison by July 1 to begin serving […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Gold bars and Sen. Bob Menendez’s curiosity about their price takes central role at bribery trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors showed jurors at Sen. Bob Menendez ’s trial on Thursday multiple instances when he researched the value of gold as he tried to help a New Jersey businessman who authorities say bribed him with gold and cash. The evidence about the Democrat’s online searches was prominently displayed to a New […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide in Delaware fails in Senate

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide in Delaware failed to win approval in the state Senate on Thursday after narrowly clearing the House earlier this year, but it could come back next week. The legislation failed in the Democrat-led Senate in a 9-9 tie after three members of the Democratic caucus spoke […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Amtrak trains suspended from Philadelphia to New Haven by circuit breaker malfunction

NEW YORK (AP) — Amtrak trains were temporarily suspended Thursday afternoon from Philadelphia to New Haven, Connecticut, by a circuit breaker malfunction, the national rail service said. The technical issue led to a widespread loss of power on the tracks between Penn Station in New York City and Union Station in Newark, New Jersey at […]

10 hours ago

Tornadoes in Virginia and Florida, flooding in other states