One Killed at Arkansas Nursing Home as Tornadoes Rip Through Several States
A string of powerful storms and tornadoes ripped through the center of the country on Friday night, killing one person at a nursing home in Arkansas and causing a roof to collapse at an Amazon building in Illinois, according to officials and local news reports.
At about 8:15 p.m. local time, a tornado hit the nursing home, Monette Manor in Monette, Ark., in the northeast corner of the state, prompting a large response from the police and emergency workers in the area, according to Marvin Day, the Craighead County judge.
Search-and-rescue workers found one person who had died and five who had been seriously injured, Mr. Day said, correcting an earlier report that at least two people had been killed. Mr. Day said that other residential buildings in the area had also been damaged. “It’s just really heartbreaking,” he said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said that reports from emergency management officials indicated that a tornado had also struck in Mississippi County. “First responders are on the scene,” Mr. Hutchinson wrote on Twitter.
Local news reports showed that the roof of an Amazon warehouse had collapsed in Edwardsville, Ill., drawing police officers and emergency workers.
Herbert Simmons, the director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, said local officials were responding to an “active scene” at the warehouse. “Right now, our concern is trying to get people who are trapped,” he said, adding that he was not sure how many people might be in the building.
“My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I’ve reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois said on Twitter. He said that the State Police and emergency management officials were working with local officials and that he would continue to monitor the situation.
At least five states were hit by tornadoes on Friday night, including Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas, said Bill Bunting, operations chief at the Storm Prediction Center, part of the National Weather Service.
Mr. Bunting said the tornadoes were part of the same weather system that was wreaking havoc in many parts of the country, causing substantial snowfall across parts of the upper Midwest and western Great Lakes.
The damage in Arkansas came after a severe thunderstorm produced a tornado that was tearing through the region, according to the National Weather Service. As of 9:17 p.m. local time, the storm was near Trumann, Ark., and moving northeast at 55 miles per hour, bringing with it a tornado and quarter-sized hail, the Weather Service said.
On Friday night, the Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for several counties in eastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.
“This is what we would call a tornado outbreak, where you have a storm system which produces a number of tornadoes over a large geographical area,” Dan Pydynowski, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, said on Friday.
But such a large and powerful system in December is highly unusual, and something the region usually sees in May or April.
“It’s certainly not unheard-of,” he said of tornadoes this late in the year, “but to have an outbreak of this magnitude, with this many tornado reports — it’s a little unusual for this time of year.”
Temperatures in Arkansas and Kansas today were “spring weather,” Mr. Pydynowski said. Highs were in the 70s and 80s. “It was unusually warm, and there was moisture in place. And you had a strong cold front end. These are the ingredients for big storms in the spring, but not in mid-December,” he said.
Tornado warnings are in place overnight, as the storm system shifts east.
“Certainly, we’ll be dealing with more tornadoes as we move into tomorrow and the whole storm system moves forward into Ohio, eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee,” Mr. Pydynowski added.