Strong Spring storms crossing the Midwest have spawned tornadoes in Arkansas and Missouri, while dumping more than a foot of snow in Minnesota and South Dakota.
“This was a strong system of storms that caused damage to communities in several areas of our state,” Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said as he declared a state of emergency Wednesday. “We will continue to work closely with local officials to assess damages and provide any needed assistance.”
At least two dozen homes in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood were severely damaged. No injuries were reported according to Hazelwood communications manager Tim Davidson.
The weather forced St. Louis International Airport to close. At least 24,000 people were without power in the St. Louis area.
National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fuchs said there were several reports of wind damage in eastern Missouri. A small airport in Sullivan, a town of about 7,000 residents 65 miles southwest of St. Louis, had buildings damaged after 100 mph winds.
Also in Sullivan, the roof of the First Baptist church was torn off just as the choir was finishing practice.
In Arkansas, a tornado damaged at least 33 homes and injured three people as it went through Van Buren County, about 75 miles north of Little Rock. The tornado demolished the sanctuary, fellowship hall, classrooms and a pavilion at Botkinburg Foursquare Church, about 90 minutes before evening services, its pastor told CNN.
Further to the North, in Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton said the weather was taxing the resources of local and county governments, and has issued an executive order activation the National Guard. The National Weather Service has forecast another 8 or 9 inches of snow in southeastern Minnesota on Thursday with up to 14 inches across the state.
Utilities in South Dakota were struggling to restore power to more than 20,000 customers still in the dark after the first wave of heavy snow hit the state early Wednesday.
Emergency crews meanwhile tried to reach isolated tribal members after deep snow blocked roads to rural communities on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Tribal official Toni Red Cloud told the Rapid City Journal that the crews were focusing on reaching those with pressing medical needs such as dialysis patients.
According to AccuWeather.com, the severe storms that produced gusty winds, snow, hail and tornadoes were expected to move across the east and south Thursday.
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