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Severe Weather Outbreak Hits Plains, South, Ohio Valley: Tornadoes Hit Multiple States, Flash Flooding Causes Evacuations

April 5, 2014

A severe storm system that pounded the central U.S. Thursday, spawning as many as 11 tornadoes, slowly moved to the East Coast on Friday.

The storms left tens of thousands without power Friday morning, and heavy rain caused flooding that closed parts of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.

In Texas and Missouri Thursday night, people were cleaning up damage caused by the storms and, in some cases, tornadoes. In under four hours, 11 tornadoes had spawned on Thursday — five in Texas, four in Missouri and two in Illinois. Despite that period of frequent twisters, forecasters noted that a smaller number of tornadoes touched down than originally feared.

"While there were over 200 reports of severe weather Thursday, the overall number of tornadoes was relatively low," said weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. "This was due to thunderstorms tending to form in thin lines or clusters, rather than discrete, rotating supercells. Another factor was the prevalence of clusters of storms during the late morning and early afternoon in parts of Missouri and Arkansas, holding down instability for later in the day."

No twisters had been spotted Friday as the storms moved through the South and Midwest, and the storm threat ended Friday night.

(MORE: Live Updates From Our Experts)

Below is a state-by-state roundup of the problems caused by the severe weather outbreak.

Alabama

Powerful storms damaged homes, toppled trees and left some power lines down in parts of northern and central Alabama Thursday. In Lawrence County, an emergency manager said several houses were left with roof damage after high winds blew shingles from rooftops in the Wolf Springs community. The emergency manager there reported to the National Weather Service that several nearby chicken houses were also leveled by the storms. In Morgan County, the local emergency manager reported that a tree fell onto a house, putting a hole in the roof. No injuries were reported. There were other reports of toppled trees and downed power lines in Lamar and Lauderdale counties.

Arkansas

Hail the size of tennis balls fell in parts of north Arkansas while powerful winds pummeled the southern half of the state as severe weather struck late Thursday and early Friday. No tornadoes have been confirmed in the storms that hit the state in the overnight hours, and no injuries or deaths have been reported, according to the National Weather Service. In Camden, a southern Arkansas city with a population of about 12,000, more than a dozen homes and a high school suffered damage from the severe thunderstorms that struck the area. Strong winds ripped portions of the Camden Fairview High School's roof and walls around midnight Thursday, according to the city's police chief Boyd Woody.

"Strong winds took off part of the roof of the Camden Fairview High School, and there's going to be water damage inside," Woody said. "Most of the damage was out toward the gym."

Woody said the storms hit primarily in the city's south area, where the majority of the town's residential area is located.

"There has been several residential dwellings that have been damaged," he said. "We haven't had any reports of any physical injuries. It's all property. Most of the damage was caused by winds blowing trees on top of the houses."

Entergy Arkansas said Friday night that electricity was switched back on for 37,000 customers. Outages had affected more than 51,000 customers at its peak.

The company says it will likely take two to three days before power is restored to all its customers, but adds that many will see their electricity back on by Saturday.

Illinois

An EF1 tornado that damaged homes and felled trees was confirmed in Carmi, IL Thursday night. Widespread flash flooding reports due to heavy rainfall were creating more problems Friday morning. In Eldorado, vehicles were stranded and parts of the community had to be evacuated due to flooding, and Harrisburg had multiple streets under water, mostly on the southeastern side of town, according to local reports.

Indiana

A section of Interstate 64 in southwestern Indiana reopened Friday after being closed for hours because of floodwaters that swept two cars off the roadway. State police Sgt. Philip Hensley says no one was hurt when the cars were submerged by rising water on I-64 near the Dubois County town of Ferdinand, about 40 miles northeast of Evansville. The flooding was concentrated in a small section of the westbound lanes, and the eastbound lanes remained open. The National Weather Service reports more than 5 inches of rainfall in the Evansville area since Wednesday night. Flash flood warnings issued for much of far southern Indiana have expired. Scattered road flooding is occurring across southern and central Indiana.

Louisiana

Storms knocked down trees and knocked out power for some in northwestern Louisiana early Friday. Nearly 5,000 customers were without power across the state early Friday afternoon, with multiple utilities reporting outages.

(MORE: Track the Severe Weather Outbreak)

Mississippi

Scattered tree damage and power outages were reported in parts of north Mississippi as thunderstorms and the threat of tornadoes continued Thursday across Midwestern and Southern states. Two injuries were reported in Mississippi. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says it has received reports of storm damage in eight counties from the storm. MEMA officials say injuries were reported in Coahoma and Panola counties in the Mississippi Delta. The extent of the injuries was not immediately available. There have been no reports of fatalities. The agency says damages to trees, power lines and some homes were reported Chickasaw, Coahoma, Grenada, Panola, Pontotoc, Quitman, Tishomingo and Webster counties. MEMA says damage assessments are ongoing.

Missouri

Thursday's severe weather threat began early in the St. Louis morning with a tornado that left damage scattered across roads and yards in University City. The National Weather Service relayed reports of twisted trees as well as damage to roofs and fences, and initial damage surveys rated the tornado at EF1. The survey also found the tornado was approximately 100 yards wide and left a damage path about a half-mile long. The St. Louis Office of Emergency Management said approximately 100 homes suffered damage from the storm.

Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency due to the storms, activating the state's Emergency Operations Center and Plan.

The public reported a tornado shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday near the town of Washington, but Franklin County emergency management director Abraham Cook says there were no immediate reports of damage or injury. In east-central Missouri, a member of the public reported a tornado Thursday evening near the Osage County town of Rich Fountain. County emergency management director Andrea Rice said the sighting was unconfirmed and she was unaware of any damage. Parts of Missouri had hail and more than 6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, prompting flash flooding and water rescues in several locations.

Texas

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth confirmed that at least three tornadoes touched down on Thursday night during a strong line of storms that also produced hail the size of grapefruits in Denton. An EF-0 tornado was reported in Collin County in the town of Princeton and an EF-1 tornado was confirmed in Hunt County near Merit. Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks originally said four people were hurt when a suspected tornado destroyed a farmhouse and a mobile home near Merit.

Five people were slightly hurt and hundreds of homes and businesses lost power after North Texas thunderstorms destroyed some structures. Officials with an ambulance service in the Greenville area, 45 miles northeast of Dallas, on Friday reported five individuals taken to hospitals. Michael Shields with American Medical Response says nobody suffered injuries believed to be life-threatening in Thursday night's storms. Shields on Friday said the number of injured had reached five. He didn't provide details on the patients. Electric provider Oncor on Friday reported more than 1,200 outages, mainly in the Hunt County area.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

MORE: Severe Weather Hits the Plains and South

Damage from severe weather is seen near Camden Fairview High School in Camden, Ark., on April 4, 2014. (Eric Hicks/weather.com)


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