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Storm woes range from sinkhole to twisters

Apr 18, 2013 - By Jason Keyser, The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Middle America was overwhelmed by weather Thursday, with snow in the north, tornadoes in the Plains, and torrential rains that caused floods and transportation woes -- and a sinkhole in Chicago.

Seemingly every community in the Plains and Midwest was under some sort of watch or warning. Up to a foot of snow was expected in parts of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Snow and ice closed highways in Colorado and Wyoming. Rivers were surging beyond their banks from downpours in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. Tornadoes caused scattered damage in Oklahoma. Frost warnings were in effect in Kansas and Oklahoma as a cold front pushed out warmer air.

"It's a classic spring storm in many ways," Mark Fuchs of the National Weather Service said. "There's a wide variety of weather, a big temperature difference."

Consider St. Louis. On Wednesday the temperature reached 85 degrees. Strong storms passed through on Thursday, and by Friday, the temperature is forecast to be around 40 degrees.

There were no immediate reports of deaths related to the vast array of foul weather around the country.

Chicago was pummeled by an all-night rainstorm that ripped open a sinkhole large enough to swallow three cars and injuring one driver badly enough that he had to be hospitalized. Police spokesman Mike Sullivan said the gaping hole opened up in a street on the city's South Side, near Lake Michigan.

The injured man was driving when the road buckled and caved in. He was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The other two cars were parked.

Flooding has also forced authorities to close sections of several major expressways around Chicago, canceled classes at some schools and scrapped around 550 flights at O'Hare International Airport. The gauge at O'Hare showed 5 inches of rain, and 2 more inches were expected Thursday.

Winds, possibly from a tornado, damaged dozens of homes in Spavinaw, Okla., injuring one person.

Up to a foot of new snow was expected in northern Minnesota. Duluth has already received 24 inches of snow this month, and the additional snowfall could push it past the April record of 31.6 inches set in 1950. Winter storm warnings were also posted for parts of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Snow and ice forced closure of sections of Interstate 70 in Colorado and Interstate 80 in Wyoming. The Wyoming Department of Transportation warned drivers to watch for black ice.

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