Mar 31, 2023
Tornado Rips Little Rock Area, Central US Braces for More Storms
(Bloomberg) -- A tornado ripped across suburban Little Rock, Arkansas, as a massive weather system battered the central US with thunderstorms, hail and blizzards.
More than 93,150 customers were without power in Arkansas and another 98,000 were out in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma as the storms rumbled through, according to PowerOutage.us. Tornado watches stretched from Dallas to Chicago and forecasters warned residents in places such as Peoria, Illinois, to take cover, the National Weather Service said.
Homes in Little Rock and its surrounding area have received significant damage, including an apartment complex, according to the US Storm Prediction Center. There are also many reports of uprooted trees and debris. The police station in Sherwood, Arkansas, was damaged. In addition to the destruction in Arkansas, the agency said tornadoes have been reported in Iowa and Illinois.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has activated the National Guard to help with recovery efforts. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has tweeted several roads have been closed and an emergency shelter has been set up at Hall High School.
The tornadoes erupted from a broader weather system that deluged California with flooding rains earlier this week. As it moves from west to east, it’s colliding with warm, moist air coming out of the Gulf of Mexico that’s fueling the severe weather, said Zack Taylor, a senior branch forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Center. Since 1980, severe storms have killed 1,982 people and cause an average of $8.9 billion in annual damage and losses, according to the US National Centers for Environmental Information.
Meanwhile, more than 680 flights have been canceled around the US, with the majority in Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to FlightAware. Blizzard warnings were issued across South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Severe thunderstorms are expected on Saturday from New Jersey to Maine, including New York City, according to the US Storm Prediction Center.
(Updates with power outages and damages starting in second paragraph.)
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