At least seven deaths have been reported in connection with a series of tornadoes and severe weather that ripped through several states from Kentucky to Tennessee Monday, authorities said. Forecasters expect more rain and storms today to slam across the Midwest, as the system moves east. A likely tornado left a trail of destruction 15 miles long and three miles wide in Arkansas.
Authorities have confirmed two more deaths in Arkansas after a severe storm dumped heavy rain and spawned likely tornadoes, raising the statewide toll to seven. Faulkner County spokesman Stephan Hawks said early Tuesday that two more victims have been discovered in the small town of Vilonia, which authorities and residents believe was struck by a tornado Monday night. The latest grim discovery brings the death toll to four in the town of 3,800, some 25 miles north of Little Rock. Three other people were killed when floodwaters swept their vehicles off roadways in the northwest corner of the state according to officials. The severe weather system that affected the state was expected to move into Illinois and Wisconsin Tuesday. Meanwhile in Missouri, emergency workers in the town of Poplar Bluff were hoping that a saturated levee holding back the Black River would survive yet another downpour. Some 7,000 people could be displaced if it breaks. In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe declared a state of emergency Monday night. So far this month, 14 people have died in storm-related incidents in the state. The suspected tornado that hit Vilonia left a path of damage three miles wide and 15 miles long, officials said. Between 50 to 80 houses were destroyed, according to Faulkner County emergency management. The Madison County Sheriff's Office said an elderly couple died after they were swept away in their car as War Eagle Creek in northern Arkansas flooded on Monday afternoon. Another woman died after her vehicle was swept off the road in Washington County. Church destroyed. Arkansas State Police said a church was destroyed in Morgan, Arkansas, just northwest of Little Rock. A tornado also struck Little Rock Air Force Base, with initial reports indicating at least four homes in base housing were damaged. More than 100,000 people were without power in the state, authorities said. Authorities had closed off the roadways leading into Vilonia after the storm struck there. "The town's gone," said Vilonia resident Sheldon Brock, although he said his house was spared. Vilonia's fire chief, Keith Hillman, said 50 to 60 weren't accounted for, but he expected many simply weren't reachable. He said he didn't expect the death toll to rise significantly. More than a dozen tornadoes were reported in Texas and Arkansas on Monday night. Widespread damage was reported in largely rural Houston County in East Texas, but the severity wasn't clear because much of the area was without power, Fire Marshal David Lamb. The storm system that blew through northeast Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on Monday was expected to move into Illinois and Wisconsin on Tuesday, said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. At the same time, a second storm system will start along the same path, meaning several more days of rain. That system will continue east through Thursday, he said. "I think we'll see substantial flooding," Carbin predicted, adding later, "Arkansas to Illinois, that corridor, they've already have incredible rainfall and this is going to aggravate the situation." The region will get at least 6 inches of rain over the next three days, he said. An area east of Little Rock, Ark., stretching across Memphis and up to eastern Tennessee will be hardest hit with 8 to 9 inches. Water flows over levee. North of Arkansas in Poplar Bluff, Mo., murky water flowed over the levee at more than three dozen spots and crept toward homes in the flood plain. Some had already flooded. If the levee broke — and forecasters said it was in imminent danger of doing so — some 7,000 residents in and around the southeastern Missouri town would be displaced. About 1,000 homes were evacuated earlier in the day. Sandbagging wasn't an option, Police Chief Danny Whitely said. There were too many trouble spots, and it was too dangerous to put people on the levee. Police went door-to-door encouraging people to get out. Some scurried to collect belongings, others chose to stay. Two men had to be rescued by boat. - MSNBC.
Tornadoes were forming over Dallas late yesterday afternoon, as the weather there turned ominous, threatened by a storm system that has brought 200 reports of severe weather across the America over the last 24 hours.
The threatening skies over Dallas prompted authorities to warn people to take cover just before a tornado touched down near the town of Cleburne, Texas. The same system that brought those twisters is also bringing torrential rain that has prompted flood warnings in 17 states. The storms around Texas are part of a system expected to sweep across a broad part of the country including the southern Great Plains, the lower Mississippi Valley and into the Gulf Coast and the Tennessee Valley. With all that activity and the storms that have already hit, Storm Prediction Center lead forecaster John Hart said we could see a record month. So far, 292 tornadoes have touched down this April, killing 39 people. "It may very well end up being more tornado reports in April than we've seen before," Hart said. "We do seem to be on track for a record in that respect." Meanwhile, in the St. Louis area, people are recovering in the wake of a monster tornado -- the worst in nearly a half century -- that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and ripped through the major airport over the weekend. In Missouri, new damage totals show some 2,700 buildings damaged and 100 homes destroyed around St. Louis, including Marcy Baker's house. - ABC.