At Least 2 Killed at Arkansas Nursing Home as Tornadoes Rip Through Several States

Among the damage was a roof collapse at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Ill.,

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A string of powerful storms and tornadoes ripped through the center of the country on Friday night, killing at least two people 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.

“Our search-and-rescue folks have worked their way through the building and have confirmed two deaths and five serious injuries,” Mr. Day said in an interview, adding that it was not clear how many people might ultimately have been injured or killed. A state website says the nursing home has 86 licensed beds.

“We know there are other people there, we just don’t know there extent of their injuries,” Mr. Day said, adding 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.

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, including Craighead County, Poinsett County and Mississippi County. Tornado warnings were also issued for Pemiscot County and Dunklin County in southeastern Missouri.

“This is what we would call a tornado outbreak, where you have a storm system which produces a number of tornadoes over, you know, 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.

Certainty, 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.

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