JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV / AP) — A “violent tornado” touched down in Jefferson City, Missouri, causing heavy damage, according to the National Weather Service, but there were no immediate reports of fatalities.
The service reported that a “confirmed large and destructive tornado” was observed over Jefferson City at 11:43 p.m. Wednesday, moving northeast at 40 mph (64 kph). The capital city has a population of about 40,000 and is located about 130 miles west of St. Louis.
Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams said around 2:15 a.m. Thursday that there were no reports of fatalities in the city but authorities had received multiple calls of people being trapped in homes. The tornado hit during a week that has seen several days of tornadoes and torrential rains in parts of the Southern Plains and Midwest.
“It’s a chaotic situation right now,” Williams said.
Williams spoke from the Cole County Sheriff’s office, where debris including insulation, roofing shingles and metal pieces lay on the ground outside the front doors.
Area hospitals did not see an immediate influx of patients but set up command centers in case the need arises.
“We have four patients with minor injuries,” said Jessica Royston, spokeswoman at St. Mary’s Health Center.
Power outages were reported in parts of the city.
Missouri Public Safety tweeted that there was a possibility of more tornadoes and flash flooding.
Austin Thomson, 25, was in the laundry room of his apartment complex to do his wash and noticed the wind started picking up. He saw sheets of rain coming down and a flagpole bend and then slam to the ground. The windows broke and he dove behind the washers and dryers.
After it calmed down, he walked outside to check the damage.
“There’s basically one building that’s basically one story now. Every building there is two stories.”
As many were sleeping late Wednesday night, Missouri’s capital took a direct hit from a tornado — one of many bringing chaos to the central United States.
“When it hit… it felt like an earthquake,” Cindy Sandoval-Jakobsen said.
The Jefferson City resident said she took her daughter, who is blind, and the two hid in the only room in their house with no windows.
The “Wedge Tornado,” one that is wider in the funnel than it is tall, was observed over Jefferson City shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday. It moved at 40 mph and sent debris 13,000 feet into the air, according to the National Weather Service.
However, no deaths have been reported in the city as of Thursday morning, Jefferson City police Lt. David Williams said at a news conference according to CNN affiliate KRCG.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons said on Twitter that Jefferson City’s tornado was one of many bringing chaos throughout the state.
“Major tornados across state tonight, including Jeff City. We’re doing okay but praying for those that were caught in damage, some are still trapped – local emergency crews are on site and assisting,” Parsons tweeted.
The tornadoes are part of a deadly spring storm system that has unleashed drenching rain, flash flooding and hail in the central US — along with more than 130 reports of tornadoes in five days.
More than 150 miles southwest of Jefferson City, three people died Wednesday night in Golden City, Missouri, and several others in Carl Junction were injured, according to the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.
Search and rescue missions were launched in Golden City after a possible tornado, according to Missouri State Emergency Management spokesman Ron Walker.
Another of the tornadoes was near Joplin, on the eighth anniversary of an EF5 tornado that killed 161 people in that city.
The National Weather Service said a damaging tornado was spotted and tennis ball-sized hail was possible.
According to radar images, the twister passed a few miles north of Joplin.
A husband and wife in Missouri were killed Tuesday when their SUV skidded across the center lines of US highway 160 and the vehicle struck a semi.
Flooding in Tulsa
Police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are going through neighborhoods near a dam encouraging residents to get out of there in case the area floods due to release of water meant to keep the structure from failing.
The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing 215,000 cubic feet of water per second at the dam at Keystone Lake because the water is 29 feet above its normal level.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum tweeted that 215,000 cfs is the minimum rate they can release to keep the water in the reservoir from topping the floodgates. If the floodgates don’t work, the dam could fail, Bynum said.
While that dam is about 20 miles from the city, Tulsa authorities were telling people to be ready to leave their homes quickly if the situation deteriorates.
“If you live an area along a river, creek or stream, we ask that you prepare now in case you are asked to evacuate. Have a GO KIT ready — clothes, medication, important documentation, baby supplies. Charge your digital devices now,” the city tweeted.