March 31 (UPI) -- A large tornado hit Little Rock, Ark., on Friday, causing injuries, widespread damage, and forcing meteorologists from the National Weather Service to evacuate.
The tornado was part of a large storm system moving through midwestern and southern states, where widespread severe weather had been expected before Friday's storm. The National Weather Service called the tornado in Little Rock "catastrophic," according to KATV.
Nearly 75,000 customers were without power in Arkansas late Friday, according to PowerOutage.us.
A spokesperson for Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the governor signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency.
"The governor will spare no resource to aide in recovery efforts for Arkansans," Alexa Henning said, according to KATV.
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service's local office in Little Rock had to move to a tornado shelter, according to the New York Times.
An employee at a Kroger store that was hit said everything happened within 5 seconds. He said he could see people bleeding and a woman with a severe leg injury.
Local officials said there were injuries, although the extent and number were not yet known.
Leslie Taylor, a spokeswoman for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said at least one trauma patient was taken to the hospital. "We're prepared and ready to receive people," Taylor said, according to the New York Times.
KATV reported that Baptist Health in Little Rock said that they said they are treating more than 20 patients Friday afternoon, five of which are in critical condition.
Little Rock is unlikely to be the only area that sees a tornado on Friday. Parts of central and eastern Iowa, western Illinois, northern Missouri, and Wisconsin are under a tornado watch until 8 p.m. Central time.
Further south, Arkansas, southern Missouri and Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee also were under tornado watches late Friday, with the National Weather Service saying there could be several strong tornadoes overnight.