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Tornadoes, High Winds Rip Great Lakes, Upper Plains

July 12, 1987

Undated (AP) _ Thunderstorms packing tornadoes and high winds raked the Great Lakes and upper Plains on Saturday, blowing down a circus tent in Wisconsin, toppling trees and power lines in Michigan and destroying an airplane and two hangars in South Dakota.

At least four tornadoes struck Michigan’s western and central Upper Peninsula, overturning a mobile home and knocking out power to dozens of electrical customers but causing no injuries.

In Howard, Wis., high winds brought down a circus tent on top of spectators, injuring 44 people, none seriously, officials said.

The accident at the Toby Tyler Circus occurred about 3 p.m., when about 1,000 people were in the audience, said sheriff’s Sgt. George Weitzel.

Wind gust up to 100 mph were reported in Parkston, S.D., where an airplane and two hangars were destroyed at the airport.

″The airport had two hangers that are completely gone. ... They’re scattered all over,″ said Leon Baier, Parkston police chief. ″I believe one airplane would be considered totally destroyed.″

A storm dumped nearly 2 inches of rain in less than an hour Saturday night in Washington, D.C., shutting down parts of the city’s subway system, flooding highways and leaving thousands without power.

Sections of track from near the Capitol to a station just north of the White House were closed because of the danger that users could slip and fall on platforms that got wet when rainfall washed in, said Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokesperson Mary Buckley.

In Michigan, the funnel clouds were accompanied by winds gusting up to 77 mph and heavy rains as they ripped eastward across the peninsula, blowing down trees and power lines from Houghton to Copper Harbor, overturning a mobile home near Lake Linden in Houghton County, destroying a garage at Allouez, and damaging farm buildings near Cunard in Menominee County.

A wind gust of 77 mph was reported about 1:30 p.m. at the Houghton County Airport, where a third of an inch of rain fell during a 15-minute period, the National Weather Service said.

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, wind gusting to 80 mph was reported in Shawano County, and the National Weather Service said trees were blown down near Wittenburg and trees and power lines were down in the Antugo area.

Farther to the south, thunderstorms dropped marble-size hail at Loyal and near Black River Falls, Wis. Hail as big as dimes fell near Hudson, Mich.

Earlier in the day, the same area of thunderstorms producing wind gusts estimated at between 80 and 100 mph blew down trees near Cambridge, Minn., accompanied by rainfall estimated at more than 2 inches.

Elsewhere in Minnesota, trees were down in the cities of Coon Rapids, Blaine and Anoka, and trees and small signs were blown over in the St. Cloud area. And wind gusting as high as 100 mph damaged crops and buildings in eastern South Dakota.

At Parkston, S.D., high wind, hail and rain destroyed an airplane at the local airport and damaged another early Saturday. ″The airport had two hangars that are completely gone. ... They’re scattered all over,″ said police chief Leon Baier.

On Friday, hail as big as baseballs fell southwest of Pierre, S.D.

Another area of strong thunderstorms extended across sections of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Trees were toppled near Milroy, Ind., and in southern Harrison County, Ky. Small hail was reported in Rush County, Ind.; Meade County, Ky.; Troy, Ohio; and Breckinridge County, Ky. Street flooding was reported in Lima, Ohio.

Heavy thunderstorms also developed over sections of the southern Appalachians, with small stream and urban flooding reported in Buchanan and Dickenson counties in southwestern Virginia.

A high pressure area pulled hot, humid air northward over the East Coast states, and Binghamton, N.Y., tied its record for the day of 88 degrees.

But the temperature at Havre, Mont., dropped to 40 degrees, breaking the former record of 44 set in 1911.

Temperatures around the nation at 3 p.m. EDT ranged from 49 degrees at Sheridan, Wyo., to 101 at Tucson, Ariz., the 35th day of 100 degrees or more at Tucson, which is a record. The low for the day was 34 degrees at Gunnison, Colo.

For Sunday, scattered showers and thunderstorms were forecast from the Mississippi Valley east to the Atlantic Coast, except over inland sections of the lower Mississippi Valley. The most numerous showers and thunderstorms were forecast from the upper Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes region. Scattered showers and thunderstorms also were forecast over the Plains from northern Texas to South Dakota and from eastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming to northern Utah.

Highs in the 60s and 70s were forecast along the Pacific Coast and from the Rockies across the northern Plains to the upper Mississippi Valley; in the 70s and 80s over the northern and western Great Lakes; in the 90s across interior sections of California and southern Oregon and from the desert Southwest across the southern Plains to the lower and middle Mississippi Valley, and east of the Mississippi; from 100 to 105 in some sections of the desert Southwest; and in the 80s over the rest of the nation.

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