March 1 (UPI) -- At least three people have reportedly been killed in the Midwest, authorities say, as a result of severe thunderstorms that produced up to two dozen tornadoes in six states.
The severe weather system rolled into the Chicago area late Tuesday, damaging multiple neighborhoods with strong winds, rain and even baseball-sized hail in some parts. The National Weather Service said as many as 24 tornadoes were reported in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Strong gusts pushed at least a dozen vehicles, including one trailer truck, off highways in Missouri. In Illinois, an electrical tower fell in LaSalle, southwest of Chicago, and a nursing home was heavily damaged by a twister in nearby Ottawa. At least two homes were also severely damaged in Crossville, in the southern part of the state, where one of the victims was found dead in a field behind his damaged home.
"Tornadoes did a lot of damage [in LaSalle County] yesterday," Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday in a video posted to Twitter, adding that he will travel across the state to visit affected areas Wednesday and Thursday. "We are going to express our condolences to the families [of the victims]. We are going to thank the first responders who are helping out."
A 76-year-old man was killed by a falling tree in Ottawa and a third died after his vehicle was swept off Interstate 55 near Perryville, Mo., the Weather Channel reported.
There were multiple reports of uprooted trees and damage to structures across the area of the storms.
"It's mind-boggling, I can't believe what I'm seeing," Perry County, Mo., resident Hank Voelker told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's like a bomb went off."
Widespread power outages were reported across a large area as the storm moved east, from as far west as the Chicago area and as far east as Cincinnati, where more than 40,000 residents were without electricity early Wednesday.
Multiple areas across Ohio were also faced with high water or flood danger from the thunderstorms, officials said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the community and those affected," Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said in a statement. "State Emergency Management was monitoring severe weather in the region and was prepared to respond to any situation. We have already deployed strike teams and resources, and this community should know that the full weight and support of the state of Missouri is behind you."