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Celli
24-05-04, 01:07
CHICAGO (May 23) - Dozens of tornadoes and severe storms hammered the northern Plains and Midwest, with the governor of Nebraska declaring a state of emergency, officials said on Sunday.

A total of 81 tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down in the region on Saturday as a weather front stalled over the area. Unseasonably warm, humid air from the south collided with waves of low pressure on the front, said Oliver Lucia, meteorologist with Metrologix weather service.

''That's just perfect ingredients to set things off,'' Lucia said.

Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns declared a state of emergency on Saturday, with many counties in the state confirming tornado touchdowns, said Terri Teuber, a spokeswoman for the governor. The declaration makes available National Guard troops and access to emergency funds.

The hardest hit area appeared to be Hallam, Nebraska, a small town south of Lincoln, which Teuber said suffered extensive damage.

There were no reports of deaths as of Sunday morning, Teuber said.

Parts of Iowa and central Michigan were also hard hit, Lucia said, adding that more severe weather was expected on Sunday, especially in southern Michigan and Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Iowa and northwest Ohio. Storms could extend into New York and Pennsylvania, he said.

Storms over the last several days, with large hail and flash floods, have killed at least three people and left thousands without electrical power.

A tornado on Friday injured 15 people and destroyed nearly all the houses in Bradgate, Iowa, population 124, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff's office.

Three people were killed in Michigan's Berrien and St. Joseph counties on Friday when trees fell on their cars in separate incidents, said Chris Corteville, of Berrien County Sheriff's Department.

In Illinois on Sunday, volunteers were filling sandbags along the Des Plaines River amid fears of flooding, radio reports said.

Rainfall this spring has been above average from the middle of the Mississippi Valley through the Great Lakes and northern Midwest, Lucia said.

Reut12:54 05-23-04