At least four people died, two people were in critical condition and dozens were injured when powerful tornadoes ripped through Illinois, Missouri and Kansas late Tuesday, damaging homes, churches and buildings across the area, authorities said.
According to Fox News, three people were killed in Harrisburg, southern Illinois, after a suspected tornado ripped through the area destroying 35 to 40 homes in its path.
CBS News also is reporting that another person died and 13 people were injured after a tornado ripped through a mobile home park in Buffalo, southwestern Missouri.
Crews would begin searching the area once the sun came up, according to local police.
In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency late Tuesday after an apparent tornado struck the northeastern city of Harveyville, destroying 40 to 60 percent of the town.
The declaration covered Wabaunsee County, southwest of Topeka. A news release from the governor’s office said two people were airlifted from the city to the Topeka Hospital in critical condition after getting trapped in an apartment complex and eight others, who were in the same complex, were injured.
Forecasters had predicted conditions ripe for tornadoes before the storms broke out around midnight Tuesday, saving most of their furor for Kansas and Missouri.
CBS News points out that though tornado season normally starts in March, it isn’t unusual to see severe storms earlier in the year.Forecasters have a particularly difficult time assessing how serious a season will be in part because twisters are so unpredictable.
This year, two people were killed by separate tornadoes in Alabama in January, and preliminary reports have showed 95 tornadoes struck that month.
As of this writing, tornado warnings remained in effect early Wednesday morning for parts of Kentucky and Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.