On Tuesday, tornadoes touched down in upper Midwest and northern Arkansas killing at least two people. The spring-like storm system poses a risk to 45 million people
Strong winds causing damage:
Supercells, which are compact but strong storms, collected over parts of central U.S., causing damage from Arkansas to Iowa and Illinois. While in Texas, wind-whipped wildfires destroyed homes
Patti Thompson, state Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman, said that a tornado victim was killed by an uprooted tree in Ottawa, Illinois. Minor injuries were also reported at a nursing home. However, the number of those hurt in the twisters was not known.
In Perry County, Missouri, one person was killed when an apparent tornado ripped through. Between 8 and 10 homes near the small town of Perryville were badly damaged, winds were so strong that several vehicles were blown off of Interstate 55.
Jared Kutz, Perry County Clerk, said that search and rescue crews were going door-to-door and checking the highway to see if there were other victims. While Eric Greitens, Missouri Governor, stated that a tornado was confirmed in Perry County.
The worst of the weather developed after nightfall according to forecasters. They were worried it would continue overnight and hit communities while people slept.
Weather conditions usually improve after nightfall due to the cooling of the atmosphere. However, the Storm Prediction Center dispatched tornado watches late Tuesday for the area from eastern Kansas and Oklahoma to near Cincinnati, warning that significant tornadoes with winds above 111 mph were possible until 4 a.m. Central time.
Risk of bad weather:
45 million people from Texas to Ohio faced some risk of bad weather, according to the Oklahoma-based forecast center. The highest threat level in effect covered the area from southwestern Missouri into Indiana, which warned of a moderate risk for severe weather.
Tuesday’s storms would track over long distances, according to the Storm Prediction Center’s warnings. Some of the Arkansas storm continued for more than 100 miles, though it did not produce tornadoes.
Interstate 55 in both directions was closed by the Missouri Department of Transportation because of storm damage in Perryville. Drivers stopped along U.S. 60 east of Springfield, Missouri as the storm showered some areas with large hailstones, including some the size of baseballs in central Illinois.
Tuesday’s threat level was raised by forecaster Ariel Cohen in a midday update. He said that sunshine warmed the region and roiled the atmosphere ahead of an approaching cold front. The threat is expected to shift to the Southeastern U.S. on Wednesday.
Strong winds spread wildfires in Texas. Four homes were destroyed near Tulia, Texas. Phillip Truitt, A&M Forest Service spokesman, said that the fire caused the evacuation of almost 1,200 homes.