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Severe weather warning as ‘violent tornado’ touches down in Missouri

‘More dangerous severe weather’ is forecast, according to public safety officials.

(Shayla Brooks/AP)
(Shayla Brooks/AP)

A “violent tornado” has touched down in Missouri, causing heavy damage, according to the US National Weather Service.

The service reported that a “confirmed large and destructive tornado” was observed over Jefferson City at 11.43pm on Wednesday, moving north east at 40mph. The capital city is 130 miles west of St Louis.

No fatalities have been reported but Jefferson City Police Lieutenant David Williams said emergency services have received multiple calls of people being trapped in their homes.

“It’s a chaotic situation right now,” Mr Williams said. “We need people who are not affected to stay out of those areas.”

He spoke from the county sheriff’s office, where debris such as insulation, roofing shingles and metal pieces lay on the ground outside the front doors.

Power outages were reported in parts of the city.

“More dangerous severe weather — tornadoes and flash flooding — expected overnight,” the Missouri Public Safety agency tweeted.

The National Weather Service said it had received 22 reports of tornadoes by late on Wednesday evening, although some of those could be duplicate reporting of the same twister.

One tornado skirted a few miles north of Joplin, Missouri, on the eighth anniversary of a catastrophic tornado that killed 161 people in the city.

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A tornado in Carl Junction (Chris Higgins/AP)

The tornado caused some damage in the town of Carl Junction, about four miles north of Joplin airport.

The Arkansas River is approaching historic highs, while the already high Missouri and Mississippi rivers were again rising after a multi-day stretch of storms that produced dozens of tornadoes.

Forecasters predicted parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas could see more severe weather into Thursday.

Two barges broke loose and floated swiftly down the swollen Arkansas River in eastern Oklahoma on Wednesday, spreading alarm downstream as they threatened to hit a dam.

The emergency was the latest consequence of storms and torrential rains that have ravaged the Mid West, from Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.

Authorities urged residents of several small towns in Oklahoma and Kansas to leave their homes as rivers and streams rose.

Posted by Webbers Falls Area News & Events on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Arkansas River town of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, was one such town. Town officials ordered a mandatory evacuation on Wednesday afternoon because of the river’s rising level.

On Wednesday evening, a posting on the town’s official Facebook page sounded the alarm about the runaway barges for its 600 residents: “Evacuate Webbers Falls immediately. The barges are loose and has the potential to hit the lock and dam 16. If the dam breaks, it will be catastrophic!! Leave now!!”

There was no word by midnight on Wednesday where the barges were on the river, but local television stations showing live video of the river and the lock and dam said they had not yet arrived.

PA

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