The coldest temperatures on record in some parts of the U.S. have left passengers across the country dealing with long delays. By bus, by air and by train many travelers are stuck far from home, with lines growing as temperatures drop. CNN’s Rosa Flores has the latest.
Bone-chilling cold is gripping much of the country. Some areas are seeing their lowest temperatures in 20 years. Authorities already blame the cold for at least 13 deaths. This phenomenon is the result of a polar vortex – a mass of frigid swirling air from the north. Stephanie Elam takes a look at some of the worst weather in America.
The National Weather Service confirms that a tornado that ripped through Washington, Illinois was an EF4, packing winds of up to 190 miles per hour. The mayor says as many as 500 homes in the town were destroyed or seriously damaged. At least six people were killed in Illinois as tornadoes touched down across the state. Gary Tuchman reports on one Illinois family who captured video of the tornado that destroyed their home and lived to tell the tale.
Editor’s Note: Click here to watch AC360 reports from the frontlines of the deadly Arizona wildfire.
The governor of Arizona has announced flags at all state buildings will be fly at half-staff for 19 days, through July 19. That’s one day for each of the 19 elite firefighters who died battling the Yarnell Hill fire near Prescott. Today the nearly 600 firefighters on the scene stopped their work for a moment of silence in honor of those heroes. The pause came as the convoy of vehicles used by the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots were driven from the scene and back to Prescott, where the team was based. Some progress is being made in fighting the flames.
Here’s the AC360 411:
Jaenette and Kristian Coyne's home was destroyed by the blaze in Colorado. They escaped the fire with their 20-month-old baby and the few sentimental items they could pack with little time to get out.
At a local fire station on Tuesday, they watched the images on the news showing their home consumed by flames. "It was probably the worst thing I've ever seen in my life," said Jaenette. They told Anderson Cooper how they're processing the devastating destruction of their property in an interview on Thursday.
"We literally had five minutes and we left because the flames were there," said Jaenette. "The first thing I grabbed was the baby album, then I grabbed our personal computer ... we grabbed the fire box ... and that was it. We had to leave."
Firefighters made little headway Thursday against a raging wildfire near Colorado Springs, Colorado, which has scorched close to 16,000 acres, destroyed 360 homes and claimed at least two lives.
Witnesses spoke to the two victims in the afternoon, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told reporters.
"They said that they could see a glow to the west. They were packing their personal belongings, trying to get out," he said.
Earlier, county spokesman Dave Rose told CNN that the Black Forest Fire, burning northeast of the city, now appears to be the most destructive in terms of property lost in state history.
A fast-moving storm system struck parts of the Upper Midwest hard on Wednesday evening, delivering blows to Chicago and many other communities before moving quickly to inflict damage farther east.
The Windy City itself experienced gusts that measured about 50 mph around 6 p.m. (7 p.m. ET), in addition to dime-size hail, the National Weather Service's Chicago branch said.
Cities and towns near Chicago were affected as well.
Residents in Oklahoma who were commuting home last week when the storm gained strength became vulnerable on the highway. Some may have planned ahead to escape the tornado, but regardless they were stuck on the road and risked becoming the victim of flash flooding.
CNN's Chad Myers says a car is never a safe place to be during a twister. "When a tornado gets done with a car, there's no place left for you in it. The entire thing is smashed to bits," he tells Anderson Cooper.
The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirms at least 18 people died on Friday. Three men who lost their lives were storm chasers Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young. Myers emphasizes that Tim was not a daredevil and not carelessly on the road, but a scientist collecting data to better help the government.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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