Dangerous tornado-brewing storms Friday thrashed populated areas of the same U.S. South-Midwest region pounded by deadly storm-fed tornadoes 48 hours earlier.
Hail and rain buffeted eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee and northern Mississippi in a prelude storm that forecasters said would be followed in the afternoon by a brutal storm system that could be more powerful and generate more tornadoes than the one that killed 13 people Wednesday, AccuWeather.com said.
The follow-on storm was forecast to push eastward across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, with the most severe weather pummeling Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, southeastern Illinois, the southern two-thirds of Indiana and southwestern Ohio, weather maps reviewed by United Press International indicated.
Nashville, Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati and Indianapolis were among the cities at most risk for strong, intense and damaging tornadoes as violent hail and thunderstorms swept through the area, AccuWeather.com said.
The most likely tornado time was forecast to be between 4 p.m. and 8 pm. EST, CNN reported.
The area is part of a multistate region reporting at least 30 tornadoes responsible for 13 deaths Wednesday, from Nebraska and Kansas across southern Missouri to Illinois and Kentucky.
Six people were killed in Harrisburg, Ill., a 10,000-population city about 55 miles southwest of Evansville, Ind., when a house lifted up by a 170 mph tornado fell on them and crushed them.
The tornado's Enhanced Fujita Scale rating of EF-4 -- one notch below the strongest category -- put it on par with the devastating tornado that killed 64 people in Tuscaloosa, Ala., April 27, 2011, and a notch below the multiple-vortex EF-5 tornado that killed at least 161 people in Joplin, Mo., May 22, 2011, the National Weather Service said.
Three people were killed Wednesday in southern Missouri, three in eastern Tennessee and one in northeastern Kansas.
An EF-2 tornado, with winds of 111 mph to 135 mph, caused significant damage and three dozen injuries, but no deaths, in the country music resort city of Branson, Mo.
The city's waterfront area, 15 hotels and at least six signature theaters -- including the Americana Theater, Branson Variety Theater and Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater -- were extensively damaged as the twister moved through the heart of the visitor district days before the start of the tourist season, officials said.
President Barack Obama spoke with the Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Kansas governors Thursday "to offer condolences" and federal help, the White House said.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was the first state leader to ask for assistance in damage assessment, a customary step before formally requesting federal aid.
National Guard troops helped police and sheriff's deputies direct traffic and patrol streets in stricken areas of Missouri and Kentucky, CNN reported, while residents in all ravaged states began cleaning up.
Power companies restored electricity to some battered communities but had to stop in some cases Friday due to the new round of storms.
The severe weather was forecast to diminish a bit as it whipped eastward from the nation's midsection toward the Appalachians Friday night, bringing somewhat less severe weather from Georgia through North and South Carolina Saturday.
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