Updated May 23, 2019 - Science

Central U.S. storms: 3 die in Missouri, "violent tornado" hits Jefferson City

In Jefferson City, the state capital, there is extensive damage along Ellis Boulevard near Highway 54. Power lines are down.

The destruction in Jefferson City, Missouris capital city, after the tornado struck. Photo: MO Public Safety

The Missouri Department of Public Safety said 3 people died in a storm that struck the southwest region of the state, and the National Weather Service confirmed a "violent tornado" struck Jefferson City late on Wednesday, as severe thunderstorms continued to hammer the Central U.S.

What's new: NOAA issued a severe thunderstorm outlook calling for an "enhanced" risk of severe storms again on Thursday in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. There is a continued threat for heavy rain in already flooded areas of the Central U.S.

Catch up quick: The tornado has been preliminarily rated EF-3 by the NWS. At least 20 people were injured amid extensive damage in storm-hit areas of Missouri on Wednesday, and Missouri DPS said power lines were down. Tornado watches were in place from Oklahoma City northeast to central Illinois on Wednesday night. The NWS said it received 22 reports of tornadoes by late Wednesday, though some could be duplicated sightings.

"Due to the tornado and severe weather in Jefferson City last night we are asking that all non-essential state employees in the Jefferson City area remain at home on Thursday. We have damage to state buildings and power is down in some areas. Please be safe!"
— Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

The big picture: A large tornado passed north of Joplin, Missouri, exactly 8 years after a twister there killed 161 people. Radar imagery detected debris lofted thousands of feet into the air as the twister traveled through small cities including Carl Junction and Oronogo, Missouri. Severe storms affected millions from Oklahoma to Illinois.

Missouri DPS said the fatalities occurred in Barton County and several people were injured in the Carl Junction area of Jasper County.

  • Since Tuesday alone, there have been at least 60 tornado reports.

The threat: The risk of tornadoes, flash flooding and severe thunderstorms will continue into Thursday morning, as a frontal boundary remains draped across the nation's midsection. Weather disturbances rippling along were helping to spark rounds of storms.

Record rainfall has fallen in much of the Central U.S. this spring, with more than a foot in some places in the past few days, causing dangerous flooding. Numerous evacuations were reportedly underway in Oklahoma, Kansas and nearby states due to rising waters, per weather.com. In eastern Oklahoma, 2 barges broke loose Wednesday night on the flooded Arkansas River, per AP.

Video posted by Regional Entertainment News shows some building damage, along with downed power lines and trees at Carl Junction, about 10 miles north of Joplin.

Witnesses shared images of the moment the tornado swept through the region.

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