NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Tornadoes, high winds and hail, battered the U.S. midsection on Friday, with reports of nearly three dozen tornadoes causing damage across five states and prompting urgent warnings to take cover across the region.
No deaths had been reported, but seven people were hurt by suspected tornadoes in northern Alabama. Additional tornado sightings were reported to the National Weather Service in southeastern Tennessee, and along the Ohio River Valley in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
The Weather Service issued a stream of tornado warnings urging residents in the path of the fast-moving storms to take cover and get off roads.
Earlier in the week, tornadoes killed 13 people in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee.
Huntsville, Alabama, which was struck in April 2011 by a series of deadly tornadoes, was hit again on Friday. An emergency management official said seven people were transported to hospitals.
"There are power outages and power poles down," National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Darden said. "There were two storms that moved across the area, very close together, almost attached to each other."
The path of the storm near Huntsville was similar to a devastating tornado on April 27, 2011. That month, 364 people were killed by tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi.
Limestone Correctional Facility, a prison, was in the path of Friday's storm, Alabama officials said. High winds caused roof damage to two dormitories housing about 500 inmates and damaged some perimeter fencing, an out building and a canteen.
"There is additional security on the scene and heading to the scene so there is not public safety issue," said Brian Corbett, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Forecasters warned that conditions were ripe for another round of tornadoes into Friday evening, leading authorities in Alabama and Tennessee to close schools and put out alerts.
The Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center forecast the "development of a few strong, long-track tornadoes over parts of extreme southern Indiana, central Kentucky and northern middle Tennessee" later Friday.
Other states likely to see heavy weather were Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia and Illinois, forecasters said.
Storms dropped golf ball- to baseball-sized hail on Missouri on Friday. St. Louis and Nashville also were pummeled by hail storms. Hail-producing storms also struck in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina, meteorologists said.
(Reporting By Bruce Olson, Verna Gates, Tim Ghianni, Peggy Gargis, David Bailey, James Kelleher; Writing by Andrew Stern; Editing by Stacey Joyce)
Source: Reuters US Online Report Domestic News
Image from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via Wikimedia Commons
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