3 die as 22 tornadoes rip through middle of the country
(CNN) — Meteorologists expect severe thunderstorms to spread across the Midwest throughout Wednesday after a string of tornadoes ripped through several states Tuesday.
The National Weather Service reported that 22 tornadoes ripped through the states of Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana and Iowa.
Three people were killed, others were injured and cars were scattered on highways.
Close to 100 million people are at risk for severe weather through Wednesday afternoon, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.
A man driving down the freeway was killed south of Perryville, Missouri, after a tornado blew up to 20 vehicles from a junkyard onto an interstate. There were several injuries, most among the drivers and passengers in three tractor trailer rigs also struck by the debris.
“This tornado picked up about 15-20 of these old cars, picked them up, blew them out of the junkyard, across the county road and into Interstate 55,” said Missouri Highway State Patrol Sergeant Al Nothum, adding the injuries to the other drivers were minor, “which is amazing when you see how far these tractor trailer units were pushed.”
Authorities in Ottawa, Illinois, said another man was killed after being struck by a falling tree. Ottawa Police Captain Dave Gualandri said other residents in the town were injured.
Mark Pierce, the public works supervisor with the Village of Crossville, Illinois, told CNN that a man was found dead in a field behind his heavily damaged home. The man’s wife sustained injuries in the storm and was taken to a local hospital, Pierce said.
J.R. Wright told CNN affiliate KTVI that he was driving through Perryville when he saw what he characterized as “a disaster zone.” He added when he got out of his car all he heard were “people screaming and crying. There were two or three women running up and down the road looking for their husbands.”
Linda Maguire had also been on the highway when the storm hit. “I was driving back to school in Murray, Kentucky, and the wind was blowing something fierce.”
Maguire told CNN her dad alerted her to the storm.
“Right as he told me, I saw a tractor trailer was flipped over right off the side of the road. I saw two or three of them, and two cars in front of me were at a complete stop. The tornado had just passed. There were cars scattered all over the highway and the hills looked like a scrap yard.”
All residents in the area south of Perryville impacted by Tuesday night’s tornado have been accounted for, Sheriff Gary Schaaf told CNN.
“We’re now just trying to clear the roads the best we can, so we can start cleaning up in the morning,” he said.
A nursing home in La Salle County, Illinois, also suffered damage from the storms but reported their residents were all accounted for and safe.
Multiple first responders have also been dispatched to Naplate, Illinois, after reports of damage from a tornado, according to CNN affiliate WBBM. Naplate is a small town just west of Ottawa, Illinois.
Along with tornadoes and strong winds, the National Weather Center reported substantial hail throughout the region.
In Arkansas, White County Office of Emergency Management said four people were injured after a possible tornado touchdown. The county was experiencing widespread power outages.
Severe thunderstorms are expected to spread across the Ohio and Tennessee Valley region and stretch into southern New England through the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service center
Residents could see damaging winds, tornadoes and hail on Wednesday.