Tornadoes, Severe Storms Ripping Through Heartland

By Bill Deger, Meteorologist
February 29, 2012; 5:27 PM ET
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Twitter user @rriggin posted this photo of tornado damage in Harveyville, Kan.

Severe storms that first developed across Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma on Tuesday evening progressed eastward overnight, leaving a trail of damage behind.

Missouri, northern Arkansas, southern Illinois, southern Indiana and western Kentucky became the targets of violent storms. A total of 15 tornado reports came out from Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. Some of the storms and tornadoes were extremely destructive with at least four people killed. Some of the hardest hit areas by destructive and deadly tornadoes include Branson, Mo., and Harrisburg, Ill.

Severe storms continue to rattle central and western portions of Kentucky.

8:47 a.m. CST: A tornado touchdown was confirmed near Greenville, Ky., with the storm moving eastward. Roofs were blown off of homes and one school in Greenville, Ky. A funnel cloud was spotted 8 miles southeast of Crofton, Ky., at 8:57 a.m. CST.

6:40 a.m. CST: Tornado was on the ground in Madisonville, Ky., near Exit 44 along the Pennyrile Parkway. A severely damaged home was reportedly blocking a roadway in Madisonville.

6:05 a.m. CST: A tornado was reported by a state trooper near Newburgh, Ind. Widespread damage occurred throughout the city proper. Two homes were destroyed on Peach Street and other homes were damaged along West Chester Drive. Rescue teams are responding.

6:00 a.m. CST: Possible tornado hit near Henderson, Ky., destroying four homes and injuring two people.

5:37 a.m. CST: A tornado confirmed by a trained spotter in Harrisburg, Ill., caused extensive damage in the southeastern part of town. According to the Associated Press, three people were killed by the tornado. Search and rescue is still in progress. Nearby, power flashes were observed with a possible tornado on the ground in Metropolis, Ill.

Follow @breakingweather on Twitter for updates this morning

From Twitter user ouillinoisokie: Eyewitness reportes: Some parts of Harrisburg, IL sustained major damage. Eyewitnesses say "war zone." Eyewitness account in Harrisburg: everything south of Taco Bell to Eubanks office is leveled in Harrisburg, IL.

5:32 a.m. CST: The AP is reporting that the person who died in Buffalo, Mo., was a resident of a mobile home park. A local sheriff also says that 13 others were injured when the tornado passed through the same trailer park. In addition, the AP is reporting at least a dozen injuries in Branson, where rescuers were combing through homes trying to help people who are trapped.

5:20 a.m. CST: The Emergency Manager reported widespread damage across the northern third of Cape Girardeau County with a possible tornado. People were asked not to enter the area, so emergency services could respond. One man was injured after his home collapsed on him.

5:16 a.m. CST: A power pole was snapped and downed onto a mobile home, trapping people inside, in La Center, Ky.

5:03 a.m. CST: A possible tornado touched down north and west of Mounds, Ill. A cross arm ripped off of a railroad sign and was launched through the vehicle of a trained spotter.

4:50 a.m. CST: A possible tornado destroyed a barn and chicken farm, damaged a house, and caused damaged numerous trees and power lines.

4:10 a.m. CST: Structural damage was reported in Oak Ridge, Mo., from a possible tornado, which was confirmed on the ground by spotters near Grand Tower, Ill., a short time later.

3:35 a.m. CST: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has declared a state of emergency in the state in the wake of tornado damage.

2:37 a.m. CST: There are additional reports of major structural damage and building collapses in Branson, Mo. All firefighters in the town have been told to report as rescues are ongoing.

1:35 a.m. CST: A confirmed tornado has damaged multiple structures in the town of Branson, Mo., including a hotel, restaurant and gas station.

1:25 a.m. CST: KOLR-TV in Springfield, Mo., is reporting that at least one person is dead in the wake of a tornado in Buffalo, Mo.

12:35 a.m. CST: Laclede County, Mo., Emergency Management reported debris falling from the sky in Lebanon, possibly from a nearby tornado.

11:48 p.m. CST: AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Meteorologist Cory Mottice relayed a report of blown out windows and a barn destroyed by a possible tornado in Arcola, Mo.

11:30 p.m. CST: The first photo of potential tornado damage in Harveyville, Kan., was posted on twitter by user @rriggin.

Twitter user @evansavar posted this photo of tornado damage sustained to the Branson, Mo., Variety Theater.

10:45 p.m. CST Update:

A broken line of severe thunderstorms extended from western Iowa to eastern Oklahoma and was quickly moving off to the east. Parts of Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas will be impacted by these storms overnight, some containing damaging winds and hail. An isolated tornado cannot be ruled out as well.

At 10:08 p.m. CST, a wind gust to 56 mph was reported at Kansas City International Airport.

RELATED: Severe Storm, Tornado Threat Shifts East Today

Reports From Tuesday Evening:

A tornado touched down 9 miles west/southwest of Gandy, Neb. The tornado was spotted by an off-duty employee of the National Weather Service (NWS).

This tornado was part of a large round of severe weather moving through the Plains. The northern extent of this storms is bringing blizzard conditions across the northern Plains.

Another tornado, spotted by a storm chaser, touched ground 6 miles south/southwest of Hutchinson, Kan.

AccuWeather.com's Meghan Evans and John Marsh contributed to the content of this story.

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