A tornado outbreak that rolled across Arkansas on Friday night resulted in at least 10 fatalities spanning four states and dozens of hospitalizations, according to local authorities who spoke to ABC News. The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for more than 28 million people in the South and Midwest.
Although dozens of tornadoes were recorded in the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Tennessee, Illinois, and Wisconsin, the precise number of tornadoes that were confirmed has not yet been determined. According to authorities, of the 10 fatalities, five occurred in Arkansas, three in Indiana, one in Illinois, and one in Alabama.
Due to the extreme weather on Friday, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard to help state and local law enforcement. She claimed that the storm had caused “major damage” in Central Arkansas.
Sanders tweeted that Arkansans “must continue to keep weather vigilant as storms are continuing to roll through.” A vast area spanning seven states has seen 57 tornado reports in the last 24 hours. The persistent tornado threat has led to an increase in the number of reports of tornadoes on Saturday mornings.
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According to Madeline Roberts, a spokesman for the county’s emergency management organization, at least one person died and more than 50 people have been hospitalized in Pulaski County, Arkansas, with more people anticipated to be admitted, according to ABC News. She was unaware of the circumstances surrounding those people.
Moreover, four individuals have been confirmed dead in Wynne, a city in northeastern Arkansas that was directly slammed by a tornado tonight. The number of fatalities was confirmed to ABC News by Miles Kimble, the coroner of nearby St. Francis County, who was assisting in Wynne. One more person has been reported deceased in the state of Illinois, and three more people were slain in Indiana.
Due to the possibility of a devastating tornado and hail the size of a quarter, a tornado emergency has been declared for metro Little Rock, Arkansas, on Friday afternoon. 24 persons have been admitted to hospitals, according to Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. He also stated that he is “not aware of any fatalities in Little Rock at this time.”
He tweeted, “Property damage is considerable and we are currently reacting.” The Little Rock Fire Department’s Capt. Jacob Lear-Sadowsky previously told ABC News that the storm had caused a “substantial” number of injuries. A local hospital informed ABC News that it is prepared for a potential “influx of patients,” but that it has not yet admitted any of those patients.
According to Lear-Sadowsky, most of the damage is in West Little Rock, where “several structures,” including both residential and commercial ones, have been damaged. The storm has also caused felled trees and power wires, as well as cars that have flipped over. Residents should “stay in their houses,” the city of Little Rock requested on Twitter
so that emergency officials can begin their work. By 5:13 pm, a “confirmed huge and extremely dangerous tornado” was discovered as the strong supercell proceeded eastward. The NWS reported it was a “life-threatening situation” in Earle, Arkansas, west of Memphis, and confirmed a “catastrophic” tornado swept through the Little Rock metro region.
Wynne, Arkansas, a small town close by and about 50 miles west of Memphis, is reporting significant damage. The mayor of the community, Jennifer Hobbs, told ABC News that there has been “serious devastation” and that she thinks there are trapped people, though she was unable to specify how many.
According to Hobbs, the tornado divided the community of more than 8,000 people in two. “We’re still trying to get workers out and make sure we don’t have anyone stranded and continue to survey the damage,” Hobbs said.
About the tornado activity in the state, Latricia Woodruff, a representative for the Arkansas Division of Disaster Management, told ABC News Live Prime on Friday, “We had no clue that it would be this much devastation that we’re witnessing right now at this point.” “There are several homes that have been damaged, as well as other buildings, and we heard that a fire station here in Little Rock has also sustained some damage.”
There are numerous severe weather risks for the area, and a tornado emergency has been issued north of Memphis. The tornado emergencies come as a major storm puts millions of people in the Heartland at risk for severe weather, including potentially dangerous, long-track tornadoes. Friday saw the rare issuance of high-risk tornado warnings for portions of six states: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
For portions of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan, a tornado watch has been issued until 3 a.m. ET Saturday, as destructive storms with tornadoes and powerful winds, remain a possibility far into the early morning hours. Unsafe storms last weekend hit a region that is now at risk for tornadoes. On Friday, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Rolling Fork, Mississippi, one of those places.
Standing amidst the devastation, Biden said during remarks in the town on Friday, “Jill and I are here to show our support.” “I know there is a lot of suffering, and it’s hard to think this town will be rebuilt and rebuilt back better than it was before,” the speaker said. In the storms, about two dozen individuals perished. With Friday’s storms, tornadoes, destructive winds, and enormous hail are all possibilities.
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From Lufkin, Texas, to Milwaukee and as far east as Cincinnati and Nashville, Tennessee, this extreme weather is widespread. On Saturday, the storm system advances into the Northeast, and Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and maybe northern New Jersey could experience some severe weather. The Northeast will be most at risk from damaging winds.
This storm has a wintry component as blizzard warnings have been issued for South Dakota and Minnesota, where accumulations of more than half a foot of snow and wind gusts of 45 mph are possible. Whiteout circumstances are anticipated. From Nebraska through Minneapolis and into Wisconsin and Michigan, where more than a foot of snow is anticipated, a winter storm warning is in effect.
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