2 severe tornado touchdowns confirmed in Ohio; Trump tweets support on recovery efforts

DAYTON, Ohio- Forecasters have confirmed two severe-strength tornadoes touched down in the Dayton, Ohio, area with more possible ones under investigation.

The National Weather Service says a tornado classified as an EF3 hit Trotwood just west of Dayton, with another touchdown just east of Dayton in Greene County.

Forecaster Myron Padgett says it's possible the same tornado went back up and touched down a second time.

An EF3 is considered a strong tornado that does severe damage, rated on a scale of EF0 through EF5.

President Trump on Tuesday afternoon tweeted: "Storms overnight across Ohio and many other States were very dangerous and damaging. My team continues to update me with reports from emergency managers in the States affected. Listen to your local officials and be resilient. We are with you! . just updated me on the devastation from the many tornadoes that struck Ohio early this morning. My Administration fully supports the people of the great State of Ohio as they begin the cleanup and recovery."

Governor DeWine declared a state of emergency in three counties: Greene, Mercer, and Montgomery.

The emergency proclamation will allow:

State agencies to provide resources and support beyond their normal authority, under the direction of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA); Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to suspend state purchasing requirements to support recovery efforts and obtain needed resources such as water and generators more quickly and efficiently.

A slew of smaller tornadoes hit other areas in Ohio including two in Pickaway County, Several other areas damaged by major storms are being surveyed.

A swarm of tornadoes so tightly packed that one may have crossed the path carved by another tore across Indiana and Ohio overnight, smashing homes, blowing out windows and ending the school year early for some students because of damage to buildings. One person was killed and dozens were injured.

The storms were among 53 twisters that forecasters said may have touched down Monday across eight states stretching eastward from Idaho and Colorado.

The winds peeled away roofs — leaving homes looking like giant dollhouses — knocked houses off their foundations, toppled trees, brought down power lines and churned up so much debris that it could be seen on radar. Highway crews had to use snowplows to clear an Ohio interstate.

Some of the heaviest damage was reported just outside Dayton, Ohio.

"I just got down on all fours and covered my head with my hands," said Francis Dutmers, who with his wife headed for the basement of their home in Vandalia, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) outside Dayton, when the storm hit with a "very loud roar" Monday night. The winds blew out windows around his house, filled rooms with debris and took down most of his trees.

In Celina, Ohio, 81-year-old Melvin Dale Hannah was killed when a parked car was blown into his house, authorities said.

"There's areas that truly look like a war zone," Mayor Jeffrey Hazel said Tuesday.

Storm reports posted online by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center showed that 14 suspected tornadoes touched down in Indiana, 11 in Colorado and nine in Ohio. Six were reported in Iowa, five in Nebraska, four in Illinois and three in Minnesota, with one in Idaho.

Thunderstorms that spun off the Colorado twisters dropped hail as large as tennis balls, with pea-size hail reported in the Denver area. Nebraska was hit with hail more than 2 inches in diameter, and dozens of drivers pulled off Interstate 80 with broken windshields.

Forecasters warned of the possibility of powerful thunderstorms during the Tuesday afternoon rush hour in the Kansas City area, as well as more bad weather in Ohio.

A tornado with winds up to 140 mph (225 kph) struck near Trotwood, Ohio, eight miles (12 kilometers) from Dayton, and Mayor Mary McDonald reported "catastrophic damage" in the community of 24,500. Several apartment buildings were damaged or destroyed, including one complex where the entire roof was torn away, and at least three dozen people were treated at emergency rooms for cuts, bumps and bruises.

"If I didn't move quick enough, what could have happened?" said Erica Bohannon of Trotwood, who hid in a closet with her son and their dog. She emerged to find itself looking at the sky. The roof had blown away.

Five busloads of displaced residents were taken to a church that served as a shelter, Trotwood's mayor said.

Just before midnight, about 40 minutes after that tornado cut through, the weather service tweeted that another one was crossing its path, kicking up enough debris to be visible on radar.

In Brookville, west of Dayton, the storm peeled roofs off schools, destroyed a barn and heavily damaged houses.

Only a few minor injuries were reported in Dayton. Fire Chief Jeffrey Payne called that "pretty miraculous," attributing it to people heeding early warnings. Sirens went off ahead of the storm.

A boil-water advisory was issued after the storms knocked out power to the city's pumping stations, and Dayton Power & Light said 64,000 customers were left without electricity. A high school gym in Dayton was designated an emergency shelter until authorities realized it was unusable.

Vandalia's school system tweeted that it is ending the year two days early because of building damage. In Brookville, where the storm tore off the school's roof, classes were canceled.

In Indiana, a twister touched down Monday evening in Pendleton, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from Indianapolis. At least 75 homes were damaged there and in nearby Huntsville, said Madison County Emergency Management spokesman Todd Harmeson. No serious injuries were reported.

Pendleton residents were urged to stay in their homes Tuesday morning because of downed trees, power lines and utility poles.

"People are getting antsy. I know they want to get outdoors, and I know they want to see what's going on in the neighborhood," Harmeson said. But he added: "We still have hazards out there."

Outbreaks of 50 or more tornadoes have happened 63 times in U.S. history, with three instances on record of more than 100 twisters, said Patrick Marsh of the Storm Prediction Center. That includes a deadly April 27, 2011, "super outbreak" of 173 tornadoes.

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