Tornadoes, Storms Swirl Through Midwest And Plains

The midsection of the U.S. is on alert tonight, with the National Weather Service predicting “strong tornadoes and large hail/damaging winds.”

Storms have been reported so far in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma, according to The Associated Press. There have been more than 100 reports of unconfirmed tornadoes in the Midwest, Brian Thompson of Kansas Public Radio tells our Newscast unit.

With no reports of fatalities as of Saturday evening, the AP reports, “storms were erupting faster than spotters could tally them all.”

“Weather officials and emergency management officials worried most about what would happen if strong storms hit when people were sleeping, not paying attention to weather reports and unlikely to hear warning sirens,” the AP reports. “When it’s dark, it’s also more difficult for weather spotters to clearly see funnel clouds or tornadoes.”

The National Weather Service says severe storms are also possible from parts of north-central Texas to southern parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and northern Illinois.

The town of Thurman, Iowa suffered major damage, the AP reports. Fremont County Emergency Management director Mike Crecelius tells the AP about 75 percent of the town was destroyed, though there were no reports of injuries or death.

KSN in Kansas says a large tornado moved through Wichita Saturday night around 10 p.m. CT, and that at least 9,000 people are without power.

In Wichita, KSN reports, a building at the Spirit AeroSystems plant collapsed and there is hangar damage at McConnell Air Force Base.

The base moved 16 aerial refueling tankers in anticipation of the storm, Jay Schafer of Kansas Public Radio tells our Newscast unit. He says the multimillion-dollar airplanes were relocated to North Dakota.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.