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Suspected tornadoes cause injuries, damage in Arkansas

Source: Reuters - Sun, 22 Dec 2013 03:27 AM
Author: Reuters
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(Adds second possible tornado in Arkansas; damage in Mississippi)

By Kevin Murphy

Dec 21 (Reuters) - Suspected tornadoes wreaked havoc in Arkansas on Saturday, injuring several people, damaging some homes and in one case sweeping trucks off a highway, officials said.

The most widespread damage was near Dermott, Arkansas, in the southeast corner of the state, where five homes were seriously damaged, 15 suffered minor damage and four semi-trucks were blown off a highway, said National Weather Service meteorologist David Cox in Jackson, Mississippi. Two people were injured, he said.

"We are thinking it was a tornado," Cox said. "We had quite a bit of rotation and quite a bit of damage." The storm hit at about 5 p.m. local time, he said.

The same weather system crossed the state line into Boliver County, Mississippi, where winds clocked at 64 mph downed power lines and trees and damaged some buildings, Cox said. No injuries were reported.

A possible tornado injured several people and damaged a few homes on Saturday near the town of Hughes in eastern Arkansas, officials said.

The windstorm struck at about 4 p.m., said dispatcher Lynn Morgan of the Saint Francis County Sheriff's Office. Ambulances were called to the scene, another dispatcher said.

Tommy Jackson, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said one person was seriously hurt and two suffered lesser injuries in the storm. Two homes were destroyed and three damaged in the storm, he said.

The storm has not yet been classified as a tornado by the National Weather Service, he said.

The possible tornado struck a few miles (km) west of Hughes, a town of 1,400 people about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Memphis near the eastern border of Arkansas, officials said.

A turbulent weather system was moving late Saturday from the south central United States into the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service has posted tornado watches on the southern end of the system and winter storm warnings to include ice, sleet and 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of snow from eastern Kansas into Michigan late Saturday and early Sunday. (Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Sandra Maler and Eric Walsh)

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