Tornado tears through parts of Kansas; 39 million still under severe weather threat

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Parts of Kansas and Pennsylvania are recovering from another terrifying evening of tornadoes — the 13th consecutive day that twisters have struck the US — and millions of people still are at risk of more severe weather on Wednesday.

A massive, rain-wrapped tornado ripped by Linwood, Kansas, outside Kansas City on Tuesday evening, and dozens of homes on Linwood’s outskirts are “all gone,” Mayor Brian Christenson told CNN.

At least one tornado and severe storms ravaged areas there and in nearby Douglas County, Kansas, destroying stretches of homes and businesses. At least 12 people were injured in the severe weather, officials said.

The tornado near Linwood leveled Brian Hahn’s home while he and his family were huddled in the basement under a mattress.

“I could hear it was over us and I saw my bedroom just leave,” he told CNN affiliate KMBC. “It was gone.”

“I feel lucky I’m alive.”

To the northeast, another tornado was confirmed by the National Weather Service in Berks County, Pennsylvania, “based on video received showing a tornado on the ground.” It moved through the area Tuesday evening.

Get the latest storm updates here

Morgantown was one of the hardest-hit areas in the county, but Caernarvon Township Police Department Chief John Scalia told CNN affiliate KYW there were no injuries.

“When you drive around, see the destruction, you realize how lucky we are nobody was hurt,” Scalia said.

More than 39 million people are under an enhanced risk of severe weather Wednesday from northeastern Texas through the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast, CNN Meteorologist Michael Guy said, with the main threats starting Wednesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service said areas from Texas through the Mid-Atlantic Coast can expect severe storms, with “multiple rounds of storms expected in some areas.”

“A concentration of strong thunderstorms with heavy rainfall” will continue in parts of Missouri, Iowa and Illinois with ongoing flash flooding, the weather service said.

Hourly rain totals of up to 2 inches are possible, with some areas seeing up to 3 inches.

Kansas City, Missouri, could see hail up to an inch in diameter, the weather service said, and wind gusts of up to 60 mph as severe storms continue into Wednesday evening.

Some places will see ‘historic’ flooding

Rains this week are exacerbating flooding that has troubled parts of the central US for weeks.

One part of the Arkansas River in that state is expected to crest Wednesday afternoon at around 41 feet, Arkansas emergency management told CNN.

“This is looking to be record-breaking all along the Arkansas River, and this is something we have never seen before,” spokeswoman Melody Daniel said.

All the levees set up have worked so far, Daniel said. Two of them have overtopped, but have not failed.

“This is the highest the river has ever been in recorded history,” Barling police officer James Breeden told CNN.

Daniel said more than a dozen counties are expected to see historic flooding. Those counties are: Sebastian, Crawford, Logan, Johnson, Yell, Pope, Perry, Conway, Faulkner, Pulaski, Jefferson, Lincoln and Desha County.

Up to 50 homes could be impacted by the floods, the city of North Little Rock said on Facebook. Any significant rainfall could affect drainage issues and increase the number of homes that will be impacted.

“Respect all barricades and road and trail closures,” the city posted. “They are there for your protection. Do not put our emergency responders in a position that would be dangerous to you and them.”

In Ozark, Arkansas, the river will likely break its record Thursday before it crests Friday, Guy said.

“The last crest to break the record was in 1943,” he said. “The last time the river was this high at this location was 1990.”

Flooding near the site already occurred once this year, in early January.

One person was killed in Arkansas Tuesday evening after drowning in flood waters, police told CNN.

The victim, a 64-year-old man, had been driving a small Suzuki SUV, Breeden said.

Authorities said the vehicle appeared to have driven into a flooded roadway that had been barricaded. A deputy sheriff saw a body floating in the water and attempted a rescue, Breeden said. The man’s body was located near Fort Chafee.

Oklahoma has also been no stranger to severe weather the past week. Severe storms brought hail, flooding and tornadoes across the state. Several people have died due to the storms, including two people after a tornado touched down in El Reno on Saturday.

More rain is expected across Oklahoma Wednesday and most of next week, bringing the potential for more catastrophic flooding.

Further north, officials are warning of fast rises on the lower Des Moines River in Iowa and on the Fox River in northeastern Missouri. Both are expected to reach major flood stage — which could lead to flooding — by Wednesday.

Record-breaking May rains

Tuesday’s rain broke records in Kansas City, the National Weather Service said.

The city received 1.56 inches of rainfall which boosted the monthly total to 12.81 inches. The previous record for the month of May was set in 1995 at 12.75 inches.

“This also makes this May the 3rd wettest month for ANY month in (Kansas City’s) 131-year period of record,” the weather service tweeted.

Record-breaking tornadoes in the past month

The National Weather Service reported eight tornadoes hit Ohio between Monday and Tuesday.

Three EF-3 tornadoes slammed much of Montgomery County, Beavercreek Township and the city of Celina. An EF-2 tornado touched down in northeastern Montgomery County, south of the city of Vandalia, and another was reported near the village of Laurelville.

There was an EF-1 tornado south of Tarlton and two EF-0 spinners in Miami and Montgomery counties, near Phillipsburg and southeast of Circleville.

In the past 30 days, there have been more than 500 tornado reports across the country.

There are only four other recorded instances when more than 500 US tornadoes were observed in a 30-day period: in 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2011, according to Patrick Marsh, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center.

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