Five people were killed and another injured in southeast Missouri early Wednesday after at least one tornado and another storm moved through the area, officials said.
Sheriff Casey Graham of Bollinger County confirmed the death in a Facebook post on Wednesday and said search and rescue operations were still ongoing. Sheriff Graham said the communities of Grassy and Glenallen, about 120 miles south of St. Louis, “got hit by a significant tornado this morning.”
Sergeant Clark Parrott, public information officer for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said earlier on Wednesday that the damage was extensive and crews were still working to assess the impact at the scene.
“Only a few houses were damaged, roofs were missing, power lines, electricity poles, trees fell on several main roads, making it difficult for first responders,” he said. “This is still a very active search and rescue operation.”
Governor Mike Parson of Missouri he said on Twitter that he would join emergency workers on the ground to assess the damage.
Justin Gibbs, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., said early Wednesday that there was at least one tornado overnight in Bollinger County, southeastern Missouri.
Mr Gibbs said that there was “slight damage” and radar indicated “a potentially quite strong tornado”.
Joshua Wells, 30, who lives in Glenallen in central Bollinger County, said there was extensive damage in the area, including a fallen tree, a house with a broken roof and a “twisted” auto repair shop.
“Many of the older structures have been completely leveled,” said Mr. Wells.
Having experienced a previous tornado, Mr Wells said he awoke before it passed and went next door to his sister's house to take shelter.
“I'm always on the lookout for bad weather,” said Mr Wells. “I have a feeling we should take cover.”
Severe weather is expected to continue into the afternoon, potentially bringing severe storms to a wide area of the central United States stretching from Memphis to southern Michigan, the National Weather Service word in the prophecy.
More than 10 million people in parts of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are under tornado watch, in effect through 4 p.m., meaning that conditions in and around the area are favorable for severe tornadoes and thunderstorms.
As of 11 a.m. Central time, more than 110 flights have been canceled and more than 200 delayed from Chicago O'Hare International Airport, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company. Dozens of other cancellations and delays were also reported at Chicago Midway International Airport and St. Louis Lambert.
And in the Upper Plains and Rockies, heavy snow is falling and some the main road is closed Wednesday morning, as drivers faced poor visibility and other hazards. More than a million people are under a blizzard warning, and the Weather Service said inches would likely fall in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota during the night.
The central United States has had recent severe weather, including destructive tornadoes and blizzards that hit the region last week.
On Tuesday, several new tornadoes were reported in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.
In Colona, Illinois, about 80 miles southeast of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a tornado ripped through the roof of a gas station and uprooted a tree, according to the service. Local police said that two people had been safely evacuated from the station, and that no injuries had been reported.
In Iowa, the storm rumbled near an area where tornadoes tore off roofs of homes and other buildings days earlier, displacing residents.
One of those residents, Jacob Dilks of Hills, Iowa, said he had been on an “emotional roller coaster” since his home was demolished last Friday. On Saturday, the son turned 2 years old. On Tuesday, his wife gave birth to a daughter.
“One minute, you're scared for the lives of your family, and the next you're glad to be alive,” said Mr. Dilks, 28, whose family has been living with relatives near Coralville.
Damage to baseball-sized hail was also reported Tuesday afternoon in cities in northeastern Illinois. Greetings are about three inches fell in the Chicago area was the biggest since the July 2020 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service in Chicago. That Chicago Fire Department said that strong winds had uprooted trees and power lines, and damaged buildings.
In Chicago, where voters on Tuesday elected Brandon Johnson as mayor, people appeared to be heeding calls for an early vote, ahead of bad weather, according to Max Bever, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections. As of noon local time, the ballot count reflected 23 percent of the citywide turnout, compared with 21 percent at noon in the previous election on February 28.
Other than the drop in turnout in the afternoon that the hurricane hit, the election board is not aware of any other storm-related effects on turnout, Bever said late Tuesday. He added that the overall turnout figures for the day were relatively low for an election day.
Most of Wednesday morning's tornado risk is concentrated in Arkansas, where five people died in separate tornadoes last Friday. Forecasters said late Tuesday they were monitoring the potential threat of a tornado in the region including Little Rock, the capital city.
Scientists have not been able to determine if there is a link between climate change and the frequency or strength of tornadoes. The researchers did say that in recent years tornadoes appear to occur in larger clusters, and the region known as the tornado tunnel on the Great Plains, where most tornadoes occur, appears to be shifting eastward.
Cindy Hadish Johnny Diaz And jesus jimenez reporting contribution.