Weather & Natural Disasters

Storm Expands After Bringing Tornadoes, Hail, High Winds

Alex Johnson, Elizabeth Chuck and Corky Siemaszko
Spring storm expands carrying tornadoes, large hail, strong winds

A spring storm system that battered parts of the Plains, Midwest and Texas with reported tornadoes, baseball-sized hail and high winds was forecast to expand into the Mississippi Valley and South on Wednesday.

The sprawling system brought five reported twisters across Missouri, Kansas, Indiana and Texas, as well as hail — the largest reportedly the size of a grapefruit — across an arc from the Lone Star State all the way to West Virginia, according to The National Weather Service.

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Wind gusts of 90 mph and above were recorded in Sherman, Texas, and at Oklahoma's Will Rogers World Airport. Flights appeared to continue largely uninterrupted there, but more than two dozen cancellations were recorded by FlightAware at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Tuesday.

SMG Photos tweet

A line of severe thunderstorm watches was in effect early Wednesday from Texas up into central Missouri, where there were also flash-flood watches and warnings.

"We have had watches galore for today," said Danielle Banks, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, singling out the Dallas and San Antonio, Texas, areas as facing "particularly dangerous" conditions.

Domenica Davis, another meteorologist for The Weather Channel, predicted a difficult 24 to 48 hours.

"It's an overnight threat, and it goes into Wednesday, as well," Davis said Tuesday evening.

One of the worst affected towns was the Checotah, Oklahoma, where high winds brought down trees and damaged homes, and public schools were set to be closed Wednesday.

"There's a lot of damage," Ryan Killingsworth, a 26-year-old casino worker, who lives in the town, told NBC News. "There's a lot of houses around the area were the trees are rooted up and there's a lot power lines

Storms have been pummeling the Plains states since Sunday, with large hail and a few reports of tornadoes.down."

The Tulsa Fire Department said it was dealing with downed power lines in Oklahoma's second-largest city, and Oklahoma Gas & Electric said more than 20,000 homes and business were without power, most of which were in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

NWS Kansas City tweet

The Air Force ordered the evacuation of all planes at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and some at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, to protect them from the storms, the Air Force said Tuesday afternoon.

The storm was set to remain in parts of the plains while expanding into the Mississippi Valley and parts of the South into Wednesday, according to forecasters.

Severe thunderstorms could be "rather numerous" across Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri, according to The Weather Channel. More isolated storms could occur into the South East and mid-Atlantic states, from Florida to Virginia.

The Midwest wasn't the only place with severe weather Tuesday. Vermont and parts of New Hampshire and Maine got up to 2 inches of sticky, wet snow, theNational Weather Service reported.