Deaths reported in central US tornadoes
February 28, 2017, 9:39 PM
Last Updated Mar 1, 2017 1:10 AM EST
CHICAGO — At least two people are dead after tornadoes ripped through the central U.S. on Tuesday.
One person died in Ottawa in Illinois’ LaSalle County on Tuesday afternoon, CBS Chicago reported.
The Times newspaper of Ottawa first reported one person was killed in the southern part of Ottawa. CBS Chicago reported that the deceased is a woman.
Patti Thompson, an Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman, said a tornado victim was killed by an uprooted tree.
Another person was killed when an apparent tornado ripped through Perry County, Missouri, about 80 miles south of St. Louis. Eight to 10 homes near the small town of Perryville were badly damaged and winds were so strong that several vehicles were blown off of Interstate 55. Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz said search and rescue crews were going door-to-door and checking the highway to see if there were other victims.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said in a statement that a tornado was confirmed in Perry County. Authorities have not released any information about the person killed.
Tornadoes touched down in the upper Midwest and northern Arkansas on Tuesday as a spring-like storm system posed a risk to 45 million people. Hail fell so quickly that motorists had to pull over and stop in Missouri.
Compact but strong storms known as supercells raked parts of the central U.S., causing damage from Arkansas to Iowa and Illinois. Wind-whipped wildfires destroyed homes in Texas.
Forecasters were particularly concerned that the worst of the weather developed after nightfall — and worried it would continue overnight and hit communities while people slept.
While weather conditions typically improve after nightfall, as the atmosphere cools, the Storm Prediction Center posted tornado watches late Tuesday for the area from eastern Kansas and Oklahoma to near Cincinnati. It warned that significant tornadoes with winds above 111 mph were possible until 4 a.m. Central time.
“Some increase in storm coverage is likely through the overnight hours,” one of its advisories said.
The Oklahoma-based forecast center said 45 million people from Texas to Ohio faced some risk of bad weather. The highest threat level in effect, warning of a “moderate risk” for severe weather, covered the area from the southwest Missouri into Indiana.
In Ottawa, a twister hit the LaSalle County Nursing Home. A woman answering the telephone at the nursing home said several residents reported bumps and bruises but no serious injuries. Trees and power lines were also down in the area.
© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.