A powerful spring storm headed to the East on Friday after unleashing tornadoes, hail and high winds as it swept through the Midwest and into the Deep South, leaving three people dead and thousands without power.
In Liberty, Miss., on Thursday, one person died and several were injured after a reported tornado struck the far-eastern part of the state, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn confirmed.
Tornado watches remained in effect for parts of the Carolinas and into southern Virginia on Friday. Late Thursday, Tennessee authorities declared a state of emergency after a possible tornado was reported in Monroe County, in the far-eastern part of the state.
In Hazelwood, Mo., near St. Louis, the roofs of at least two homes were ripped open and at least one car flipped by the storm, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Hazelwood Mayor Matt Robinson, who confirmed that a tornado hit his town, said 24 homes were damaged, but there were no immediate reports of injuries, FOX2Now reported. Robinson called the scene "pretty devastating."
A survey team from the weather service declared Thursday afternoon that an EF-2 tornado hit Hazelwood, the Weather Underground reported. EF-2 tornadoes have sustained wind speeds of from 113-157 mph, the weather service says.
Pharmacy technician A.J. Goewert said he saw "a wall of bright light" before the storm lifted products off shelves and tore holes in the roof of a Hazelwood pharmacy.
In Arkansas, a twister was reported to have touched down near Botkinburg in north-central parts of the state, said John Robinson, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock. Four people were injured.
At least six homes were destroyed and 30 damaged when the storm struck near Clinton, Ark., littering areas along Highway 65 with debris, glass and nails, KARK-TV reported.
Frederick Brown, a truck driver, told OzarksFirst.com that high winds flipped his semi-truck onto its side as he was heading north on the highway.
"You couldn't see (anything)," Brown said, "All of a sudden, I started spinning out of control for a long time, and then ... it just stopped. And then all I could do was pray and ask the Lord to not let me die."
The Log Cabin Democrat reported that the Botkinburg Foursquare church north of Clinton was destroyed by a tornado that also knocked over a tractor-trailer. No one was in the church at the time and there were no reports of injuries.
By Doug Stanglin