Baseball-sized hail falls on Omaha and across Midwest - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Severe weather, potential derecho rolls through Midwest

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A supercell is seen in living color in Holcomb, KS. (Source: @2Jarnagin/CNN) A supercell is seen in living color in Holcomb, KS. (Source: @2Jarnagin/CNN)
Baseball sized hail hit areas of Norfolk, NE on Tuesday. (Source: Jeff Caadwe/CNN) Baseball sized hail hit areas of Norfolk, NE on Tuesday. (Source: Jeff Caadwe/CNN)
Severe weather, fueled by a derecho, darkened the skies Tuesday afternoon in Omaha, NE. (Source: KETV/CNN) Severe weather, fueled by a derecho, darkened the skies Tuesday afternoon in Omaha, NE. (Source: KETV/CNN)
Debris blows in the winds moving more than 80 mph in Council Bluff, NE on Tuesday. (Source: KETV/CNN) Debris blows in the winds moving more than 80 mph in Council Bluff, NE on Tuesday. (Source: KETV/CNN)
Hail piled up at the Omaha airport on Tuesday. (Source: Sarah McCallister/KCTV) Hail piled up at the Omaha airport on Tuesday. (Source: Sarah McCallister/KCTV)

OMAHA, NE (RNN) – More than 35 million people were in the path of severe weather and a potential phenomenon called a derecho through early Wednesday - including people in the city of Omaha, NE, southwest Iowa and northern Kansas.

The National Weathr Service Omaha tweeted that "potential life threatening flash flooding ongoing across portions" of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa will be the main concerns going into early Wednesday. They warn citizens not to drive or walk in rising floodwaters.

KETV reported that firefighters and other first responders had to rescue homeowners from their homes in boats as floodwaters began to rise on neighborhood streets in Omaha. No one was injured, but they did not know when they'd be able to return home.

Reports of hail the size of tennis balls and baseballs, and winds of up to 100 mph have been reported between areas east of Omaha and Des Moines, IA, as the storm traveled quickly during rush hour traffic. The weather also traveled to areas north of Lincoln, NE.

The Omaha World-Herald reported the first signs of severe weather with sighting of a rope tornado in Colfax County, NE, near a major interstate intersection around 3:30 p.m. CT. The World-Herald tweeted tornadoes have been reported near Bassett, Ord and Greeley.

Eppley Airfield, three miles northeast of Omaha, experienced winds of more than 70 mph, grounding aircrafts and forcing passengers to take to tornado shelters until the storms passed.

The airfield reopened at 8:40 p.m. with two of the three runways being operational, assistant manager of airline affairs Joe Rotterdam told The Omaha World-Herald. The closing led to the cancellation of 33 flights.

Areas surrounding Omaha and central Nebraska are also under flash flood warnings due to reports of torrential rainfall because of the supercell thunderstorm. More than 12,000 people in the Omaha metro area are without power, and the rainfall is creating standing pools of water in roadways.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center warns that winds could exceed 80 mph throughout the Midwest.

KETV reports some hail and wind damages to homes, fallen trees and abandoned cars with hail-smashed windows on highways throughout the Omaha metro area, but no injuries. Several major roadways have flooded, with water creeping into homes. First responders have taken to using boats while searching neighborhoods. 

Forecasters are predicting the derecho could form over the Midwest, beginning in Nebraska and into Missouri and Iowa through late Tuesday.

A tornado watch is in place for parts of northwest Missouri until 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to KCTV in Kansas City, MO.

According to NOAA, a storm may be classified as a derecho if the storm extends more than 240 miles and contains wind gusts of more than 58 mph.

Wind speeds of 60 or 70 mph can uproot trees, snap off large branches and bring down utility poles and wires. Because of the widespread nature of these wind gusts, power outages can also be far-reaching, according to AccuWeather.

In June 2012, a derecho carved a 60-mile path of destruction from Illinois to Virginia. The storm caused at least $1 billion in damages and killed 13 people.

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