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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.

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America's hidden depression

Biden introduces his pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on Dec. 1. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.

Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.