U.S. records most hurricane-force gusts in a single day

(Reuters) -Record-breaking winds tore through the United States on Wednesday and early Thursday, causing the highest number of hurricane-force gusts in a single 24-hour period since at least 2004, the National Weather Service said, days after one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history.

More than 61 gusts of above 75 miles per hour (121 km per hour) were recorded across a number of mostly Midwestern states from 6 a.m. CST to 6 a.m. CST on Thursday, according to the weather service's Storm Prediction Center. The Norman, Oklahoma-based center also recorded 19 tornadoes.

"It's certainly an unprecedented event," said meteorologist Matt Elliot, who coordinates weather warnings for the center.

Previously, in data going back to 2004, the most hurricane-force gusts in a single day was 53 on Aug. 10, 2020, Elliot said. Colleagues were collating data from earlier than 2004, and expected the record to hold, he said.

Wednesday's severe weather caused multiple power outages and disruption at Kansas City International Airport in Missouri, as well as reports of wildfires. More than 450,000 homes and businesses were without power in the affected states as of Thursday afternoon, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.

At least 75 people were killed in Kentucky and 14 in nearby states when a storm system packing a swarm of tornadoes https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/kentucky-survivors-vow-rebuild-junkyard-left-by-tornado-2021-12-16 swept through the region last Friday.

In Northern California, a blizzard closed a major highway linking California and Oregon after vehicles were seen skidding or getting stuck on Interstate 5, the state's Department of Transportation said.

(Reporting by Shivam Patel in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by John Stonestreet and Jonathan Oatis)