Church closings & delays

Okla., Ark. battered by severe weather

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(CNN) — People in the central United States suffered through yet more severe weather Thursday — in the form of torrential rain, golf-ball-size hail and damaging winds, including a few reported tornadoes — and braced for even more storms to come.

Tornado warnings were issued at one point or another Thursday afternoon for portions of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. Just 10 days ago Oklahoma was in the cross hairs of a powerful tornado that left 24 dead.

Such warnings go out when witnesses or radar indicate a tornado. The National Weather Service, in fact, noted there were reports of tornadoes in at least six communities in western Arkansas — as far west as Polk, as far south as Garland County, and as far north as Oden.

Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff Thomas Goad said that strong winds had contributed to injuries and damage in the small town of Oden. The National Weather Service gave more detail, saying two were reportedly injured, a house was destroyed, power lines were knocked down, and Highway 88 was blocked.

Another three houses were reportedly damaged, and another three people were injured, near the small town of Amity, according to the weather service.

There was also reported tornadoes in north-central Oklahoma — including in and around Perkins and Ripley, which is about 10 miles east.

Shortly after 3 p.m. (4 p.m. ET), the National Weather Service tweeted that a tornado “may be developing … south of Perkins,” which is about 50 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. Minutes later, a new message stated there had been a “brief tornado” reported that had “dissipated.”

The threat, and impact, of severe weather extended well beyond Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Tornado watches — which means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form, though one hasn’t necessarily touched down — at one point extended through an eight-state stretch extending from Texas north to Michigan.

With or without confirmed funnel clouds, these storms packed a wallop. The weather service’s Tulsa office, for instance, noted one line of thunderstorms could also pack 70-mph wind gusts. Oklahoma weather experts also noted reports of half-dollar-size hail.

Flooding was the problem in places like Coffeyville, Kansas, where police rescued people from 16 vehicles in a 1½-hour stretch on Thursday afternoon after they got trapped due to intense flooding, fire department Capt. Wayne Joplin said.

Water in the streets went up to cars’ headlights, if not higher, after “torrential rain” fell on ground already saturated by storms the previous night. “The gutters and our storm system couldn’t handle it,” the captain said.

“I’ve lived here since 1979, and I’ve never seen that much rain that quick,” Joplin told CNN.

Even once night sets in Thursday, that doesn’t mean everyone can breathe easy.

The weather service’s Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a moderate chance of severe weather in parts of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas and Missouri on Friday.

The forecast is less dire Saturday, but on Sunday parts of the Northeast could be in danger.

The Storm Prediction Center says there is a 30% or higher probability for severe thunderstorms Sunday in parts of seven states, including the cities of Scranton, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; and of the New York cities of Syracuse, Albany and Elmira.

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