Tornado flattens buildings, injures 6 people in Arkansas


Severe storms, including possibly tornadoes and hail, are expected to affect wide portions of the United States on March 28.

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JONESBORO, Ark. (CNN) — Six people were injured when a tornado ripped through Jonesboro, Arkansas, on Saturday afternoon, Mayor Harold Perrin told CNN affiliate KARK.

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said search and rescue crews were making their third and final sweep looking for anyone in need of assistance before focusing on cleanup.

The storm damaged the Mall at Turtle Creek, Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley told CNN affiliate KAIT.

Images posted on social media from the scene showed broken walls on the exterior of the mall, flattened commercial buildings, at least one heavily damaged house and debris scattered across parking lots.

One picture showed a mangled vehicle in the mall parking lot. At the local airport, at least one airplane was turned over and hangars were damaged.

The mayor ordered a 7 p.m. curfew for the city located about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock.

The storm moved across Jonesboro around 5 p.m., according to a video posted by the National Weather Service in Little Rock.

The police chief urged residents to stay home while debris is cleared out of roadways and other common areas.

“We’ve already asked you to stay at home for this virus but we’re really stressing to stay at home,” Elliott said.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said via his verified Twitter that he is “paying close attention to the report of a tornado hit in Jonesboro. I know there is property damage. Just praying all is safe.”

Other tornadoes in Iowa

Other tornadoes struck Saturday, according to the weather service.

A map on the weather service’s website showed tornado strikes in Arkansas and Iowa, though none appeared to have been as damaging as the Jonesboro storm.

Tornado sightings were reported in Iowa in Black Hawk, Buchanan, Marshall Adams and Adair counties. The weather service map said power lines were knocked down and roofs blown off in Jackson County, Arkansas.

In a tweet, the weather service reported a funnel cloud with a brief tornado touchdown 6 miles southeast of Fontanelle moving northeast. No other details were available.

Severe weather had been forecast across the Midwest and Upper Mississippi River Valley on Saturday.

The weather service issued a rare “Particularly Dangerous Situation” tornado watch for parts of the Midwest through Saturday night. These storms, which could produce hail the size of baseballs or larger along with damaging 70-plus mph winds, threaten about 5 million people, CNN meteorologists said.

The states most at risk were Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. That’s where long-track, intense and multiple tornadoes could develop during the afternoon and continuing into the evening.

Overall, 70 million Americans faced the threat of severe weather, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.

A tweet on Saturday from the weather service said some cities at risk of severe storms are Little Rock, Arkansas; Des Moines, Iowa; Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville and Columbus, Tennessee; and Madison Wisconsin.

Also this weekend, a heat wave in the Southeast is breaking record high temperatures.

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