Deadly Tornadoes Batter Central US

(SOURCE)  At least 17 people died after tornadoes struck Arkansas and Oklahoma on Sunday.

The worst severe weather outbreak so far this year continued to unfold on Monday.

Places from northeastern Texas and northern Louisiana to southern Illinois will remain at risk for severe thunderstorms through Monday morning.

“Thunderstorms that produced damaging winds, hail and a devastating tornado in central Arkansas were associated with a severe weather outbreak that impacted more than half a dozen states,” Senior Meteorologist Carl Babinski said.

“Today, the focus of volatile weather will be shifting to the north and east, having more of an impact on the Tennessee and Lower Mississippi valleys,” he said.

Sixteen people died in tornadoes in Faulkner, Pulaski and White counties in Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said on its website.

At least one person died in a tornado that struck Quapaw, Okla., The Associated Press reported.

The same storm devastated Baxter Springs, Kan., where one person was injured. Sixty to 70 homes and 20 to 25 businesses were destroyed, The AP reported. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency.

The thunderstorms have and will continue to unleash damaging winds, hail and frequent lightning.

The strongest thunderstorms will also spawn tornadoes with the danger zone greatest in the vicinity of Arkansas and southern Missouri. Little Rock, Ark., lies within this zone.

UPDATES: (All times in Central time)

9:40 a.m. CDT Monday: Several highways underwater, including Highway 119, 90, 49, 139 and 62, due to flash flooding in Clay County, Ark., according to law enforcement.

8:48 a.m. CDT Monday: Accident on the westbound shoulder of I-40 in Faulkner County, Ark., is causing eastbound delays. Motorists looking at the damage from the Mayflower tornado are also causing delays, according to the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department’s Twitter account.

7:58 a.m. CDT Monday: Law enforcement in Tipton County, Tennessee, report that several roads are under water and impassable as a result of flash flooding.

7:40 a.m. CDT Monday: FAA lists gate hold and taxi delays at Chicago O’Hare airport as a result of the weather.

7:20 a.m. CDT Monday: Significant storm damage in Mayflower, Ark.:

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