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Tornadoes strike Mo., Ark., Ala., Miss.; at least one dead

April 11, 2013 at 7:28 PM   |   Comments

ST. LOUIS, April 11 (UPI) -- At least one person is dead and Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi were mopping up Thursday from severe storms and several tornadoes, officials said.

One person was killed Thursday in Kemper County, on the Mississippi-Alabama line, when high winds knocked down a steel structure, the National Weather Service said.

At least five Mississippi counties and four western Alabama counties sustained damage, and forecasters said the storm system causing the devastation could deliver rough weather later Thursday to eastern Alabama and parts of Georgia and the Florida panhandle, CNN reported.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency after storms walloped the St. Louis area and other parts of the state Wednesday. The St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management said at least two dozen homes in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood were severely damaged, CNN reported.

No injuries were reported when one tornado alighted in Hazelwood, shearing roofs off of several homes, Hazelwood communications manager Tim Davidson said.

The weather forced St. Louis International Airport to close, and people at the airport were instructed to take shelter in the airport terminal.

Officials said at least 36,000 people were without power in the St. Louis area.

Downed power lines prompted the closure of Interstates 270 and 70 in the northwest suburbs of St. Louis, officials said.

AccuWeather.com reported 2.4 inches of rain fell in the area.

A tornado in Arkansas damaged at least 33 homes and injured three people in Van Buren County, about 75 miles north of Little Rock, CNN said.

The tornado demolished the sanctuary, fellowship area, classrooms and a pavilion of Botkinburg Foursquare Church about 90 minutes before evening services, its pastor told CNN.

"If the tornado would have come an hour-and-a-half later, we would have been caught in it," Senior Rev. Ester Bass said.

Damage also was reported in Fulton County, near the Missouri border, and in Conway, Lincoln, Izard and White counties, CNN said.

Local law enforcement officials said roads in Stone County, Ark., were flooded and impassable.

As the storms pushed eastward, AccuWeather.com said rainfall totals in central Illinois ranged from 1- to 2.5 inches.

The severe storms that produced gusty winds, large hail, lightning, flash flooding and tornadoes were expected to move across the east and south Thursday, AccuWeather.com reported.

Thunderstorms are forecast from Louisiana to Pennsylvania, with the possibility of high winds, lightning, hail and flash flooding -- as well as a chance for tornadoes associated with stronger storms, Accuweather.com said.

The I-95 corridor along the Atlantic Coast is expected to get heavy rain and locally severe thunderstorms Friday, with the greatest severe thunderstorm risk expected from the Delmarva Peninsula to eastern North Carolina.

Heavy rainfall is likely early Friday from northern Florida to the eastern part of New York state, and is expected to spread to New England.

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