Tornadoes, floods hit southern states

Tornadoes rake Arkansas as flood worries grow

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (UPI) | April 26, 2011

The Ohio River topped 30 feet at the McAlpine Locks and Dam near Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, prompting flash flood warnings in Kentucky and Indiana.

Forecasters said they expected another outbreak of tornadoes in Texas and Arkansas, where severe weather the day before across Arkansas killed at least seven people, destroyed homes, spawned tornadoes and left nearly 67,000 customers without power, police said.

In Kentucky, the National Weather Service said the Ohio River is expected to crest at more than 33 feet by Thursday -- but that could change based on rainfall totals through Wednesday, The (Louisville) Courier Journal reported Tuesday.

Flood and flash flood warnings and watches were posted for areas along the river.

Henry County, Ky., officials evacuated the Sulphur area Monday because of fears the Lake Jericho Park dam may fail because of high water.

Concerning the forecast for Arkansas and Texas, "Tuesday and Wednesday will be particularly bad," Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

Cities that could see possible tornado activity Tuesday included Tyler, Texas, Little Rock, Ark., Shreveport, La., Tupelo, Miss., Memphis and Nashville.

The tornado danger will shift east, extending from the eastern Tennessee Valley to the central Gulf Coast into Wednesday evening, said. Cities at risk include Meridian, Miss., Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala., and Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tenn.

In Olathe, Kan., officials blamed a lightning strike for causing a fire that forced the evacuation of about 50 homes Monday night, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported.

Firefighters said callers reported a light pole had caught fire.

A tornado near Little Rock Air Force Base resulted in two minor injuries and damage to aircraft there, spokesman Bob Oldham said. The twister, one of several that slammed the state Monday, damaged at least 16 homes and knocked out power to parts of the base.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe declared a state of emergency Monday night "in response to the severe storms and flooding that have impacted Arkansas and are expected to continue in the coming days," a statement posted on Beebe's Web site said. The declaration was retroactive to cover storms that began on April 19.

Fayetteville, Ark., resident Steve Wilkes told CNN rain fell virtually non-stop for several days.

"I've lived here for more than 20 years. I've never seen anything like this in my life," Wilkes said. "I saw water 2 to 3 feet deep across roadways that have never flooded."

The National Weather Service in north Little Rock temporarily closed its operations Monday as severe weather moved near its location, KUAR-FM, Little Rock, reported. The weather service facility in Memphis issued warnings while the Little Rock facility was down.

In west Little Rock, quarter-size hail was reported. KUAR said Highway 64 near Vilonia was closed after being damaged by a tornado reportedly stretching up to a half-mile wide.

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