Close to 100 million people are at risk for severe weather through Wednesday afternoon, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.
The National Weather Service reported that 22 tornadoes ripped through the states of Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana and Iowa.
Missouri Highway State Patrol Sergeant Al Nothum told CNN a man driving down the freeway was killed south of Perryville, Missouri, after a tornado blew up to 20 vehicles from a junkyard onto the Interstate. Nothum added there were several injuries, most among the drivers and passengers in three tractor trailer rigs also struck by the debris.
“This tornado picked up about 15-20 of these old cars, picked them up, blew them out of the junkyard, across the county road and into Interstate 55.” Nothum adds the injuries to the other drivers were minor, “which is amazing when you see how far these tractor trailer units were pushed.”
“A disaster zone”
J.R. Wright told FOX 2 that he was driving through Perryville when he saw what he characterized as “a disaster zone.” He added when he got out of his car all he heard were “people screaming and crying. There were two or three women running up and down the road looking for their husbands.”
Linda Maguire had also been on the highway when the storm hit. “I was driving back to school in Murray, Kentucky, and the wind was blowing something fierce.”
Maguire said her dad alerted her to the storm.
“Right as he told me, I saw a tractor trailer was flipped over right off the side of the road. I saw two or three of them, and two cars in front of me were at a complete stop. The tornado had just passed. There were cars scattered all over the highway and the hills looked like a scrap yard.”
All residents in the area south of Perryville impacted by Tuesday night’s tornado have been accounted for, said Sheriff Gary Schaaf.
“We’re now just trying to clear the roads the best we can, so we can start cleaning up in the morning,” he said.
Severe weather extends into Wednesday
Severe thunderstorms are expected to spread across the Ohio and Tennessee Valley region and stretch into southern New England through the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service center
Residents could see damaging winds, tornadoes and hail on Wednesday.