DETROIT (AP) - Officials have confirmed two storm-related deaths in Michigan, raising to eight the toll from the heavy rain, powerful winds and tornadoes that formed across the region.
The Shiawassee County sheriff's department says 59-year-old Philip Daniel Smith of Perry in central Michigan was found dead and entangled in high-voltage power wires after going outside late Sunday to investigate a noise.
Also in central Michigan, Jackson County Sheriff Steven Rand says 21-year-old Ryan Allan Rickman of Leslie died when his vehicle was crushed by a fallen tree Sunday evening.
A band of storms moved across the Midwest on Sunday, unleashing powerful winds that flattened homes and left cars, trees and belongings strewn across neighborhoods. Officials say the storms also killed six people in Illinois.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Rain that moved across the Midwest in the past week has helped ease drought conditions for some farmers.
The weekly drought monitor report from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska was released Thursday. It shows the rain that caused flooding in some areas of the Midwest helped decrease the drought area from the upper Midwest into the western corn belt and central portions of the Rockies and Great Plains.
But there's a new problem: The heavy rain has left fields muddy in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois. And that means corn planting will be behind schedule.
All of the country's drought-parched states aren't out of the woods. The report shows drought is intensifying from western Texas into northern California.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A monthly economic survey index for nine Midwest and Plains states jumped last month, suggesting improving economic growth for the region over the next three to six months.
The Mid-America Business Conditions index hit 58.2 in March, compared with 53.1 in February and 53.2 in January. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he credits the index jump to "the strongest new-orders growth in two years."
The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline for that factor. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.