Midwest Hit By More Tornadoes

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes tore across the Midwest and South bringing wind gusts and hail and snapping trees and damaging houses, authorities said on Wednesday.

Accuweather meteorologists said 33 tornado sightings were unofficially reported from Oklahoma to Ohio from Tuesday night through Wednesday morning.

There were no deaths reported from the outbreak of severe weather that triggered tornado warnings from Texas to Indiana and across the South, including areas hit by storms last week that killed at least 47 people, including 24 in North Carolina alone.

Three tornadoes struck in Arkansas on Tuesday night, downing trees and power lines and causing structural damage but no reported fatalities or injuries, according to the National Weather Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Last week’s storms caused at least seven deaths in Arkansas, with Little Rock hard it. Deaths also occurred in Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Virginia.

In Tennessee, 11 tornado warnings were issued from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning with no reported touchdowns, but 19 homes were destroyed or damaged in the middle and western parts of the state, said Dean Flener, spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

High winds damaged the city hall roof in Milan, Tennessee, knocking down trees and powerlines throughout Gibson County, Milan city recorder Julienne Hart said.

“Compared to a lot of people, we were lucky,” Hart said.

Thousands of Tennessee residents remained without power on Wednesday across the state, officials said. Austin Peay State University planned to open at noon Wednesday.

The National Weather Service also warned of possible severe storms across Mississippi on Wednesday afternoon and evening that could bring large hail, heavy rains and winds up to 60 miles per hour.

In the upper Midwest, a late April storm ran from northern Iowa across to Michigan late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Reported snowfalls ranged from nearly 7 inches in parts of southeast Minnesota, to 9.9 inches in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and 7 to nearly 10 inches in several areas of Michigan, the National Weather Service said.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday night gave a federal disaster declaration to 10 of the hardest-hit counties in North Carolina from last week.

The toll in North Carolina included 133 injuries, 439 homes destroyed and nearly 6,200 other homes with significant damage, according to state emergency officials. Some 21 businesses were destroyed and 92 damaged, Gov. Beverly Perdue said Wednesday.

AccuWeather senior meteorologist Henry Margusity said he expects over the next two weeks up to 300 tornadoes could affect a region from eastern Oklahoma to northern Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

Typically, less populated areas of the southern Plains are hit by severe thunderstorms and tornadoes each spring. But drought this year, especially Texas, has created an unprecedented wildfire situation, Accuweather said.

Warm humid air will continue surging northward from the Gulf of Mexico into the Plains, Southeast and Midwest as storm systems track through about once every several days, it said.

“Add in a strong jet stream, and you have a recipe for significant severe weather outbreaks,” Accuweather said.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins, Tim Ghianni and David Bailey; Writing by David Bailey. Editing by Peter Bohan)

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